Transient Erythroblastopenia of Childhood: Evidence for Cell-Mediated Suppression of Erythropoiesis

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Abstract

Purpose:

T cell-mediated red cell aplasia in a 4 1/2-year-old child with transient erythroblastopenia of childhood (TEC) is described.

Patients and Methods:

Erythropoiesis was studied by assessing the colony growth of marrow erythroid progenitors at the time of diagnosis and during recovery.

Results:

The colony-forming unit-erythroid (CFU-E) growth of whole marrow at diagnosis was only 28% that of the control. T-cell depletion of the patient's marrow was followed by a more than fivefold increase in CFU-E growth, as compared with 20% inhibition of CFU-E and 40% inhibition of burst-forming unit-erythroid (BFU-E) growth in control marrow. The number of colony-forming unit-granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM) in both control and patient's marrow was not significantly altered by all of these manipulations. During early and late recovery, CFU-E and BFU-E growth improved substantially, and the effect of T-cell depletion diminished. Increased numbers of peripheral T-suppressor lymphocytes, as well as activation of natural killer (NK) cells and high levels of interferon, all consistent with viral infection, were found at presentation. Clinical recovery was associated with normalization of T-suppressor lymphocyte number.

Conclusions:

The results suggest that in this child with TEC, a preceding viral infection may have caused activation of suppressor T-cells and interferon secretion leading to cell-mediated suppression of erythropoiesis.

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