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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51339. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051339. Epub 2012 Dec 7.

Th22 cells as well as Th17 cells expand differentially in patients with early-stage and late-stage myelodysplastic syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan, China.



Immunological mechanisms are increasingly recognized in the progression of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Early-stage MDS (E-MDS) is characterized by autoimmune-mediated myelosuppression whereas late-stage MDS (L-MDS) involves immune evasion, giving dysplastic cells growth potential to progress into acute myeloid leukemia. T-helper (Th) 22 is involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory autoimmunity and tumorigenesis. The roles of Th22 cells in the pathophysiology of E-MDS and L-MDS remain unsettled.


We studied 37 MDS patients (E-MDS, n = 17; L-MDS, n = 20) and 20 healthy controls to characterize their peripheral blood (PB), as well as 25 MDS patients and 10 healthy controls to characterize their bone marrow(BM). The expression of Interleukin-22 (IL-22), IL-17 or interferon gamma (IFN-γ) was examined in E-MDS, L-MDS patients and controls by flow cytometry. The mRNA expression levels of RAR-related orphan receptor C (RORC), IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and IL-23 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were determined by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The levels of IL-22 and IL-17 both in PB and BM plasma were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


In E-MDS, peripheral Th17 cells were significantly elevated and correlated with peripheral Th22 cells compared with healthy controls and L-MDS. Significantly higher levels of peripheral Th22 expansion, mRNA expression of IL-6, TNF-α and lower level of RORC mRNA expression were observed in L-MDS compared with E-MDS. No statistical difference was found in IL-23 mRNA expression or plasma IL-22, IL-17 levels among E-MDS, L-MDS and controls.


Our data demonstrated that L-MDS cohort had increased frequencies of peripheral Th22 cells and higher mRNA expression levels of IL-6 and TNF-α, indicating that Th22 cells along with Th17 cells or not are involved in the dynamic immune responses of MDS.

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