Humoral immune responses and CD27+ B cells in children with DiGeorge syndrome (22q11.2 deletion syndrome)

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The spectrum of T-cell abnormalities in 22q11.2 syndrome is quite broad, ranging from profound and life threatening to non-existent defects. Humoral abnormalities have been described in some of these patients, although no data are currently available on their phenotypical and functional B cell subsets. The purpose of this study was to investigate humoral immune function in a cohort of 13 children with DiGeorge syndrome by immunophenotyping B and by analysing their functionality in vivo. Humoral immunity was assessed by serum immunoglobulin evaluation, IgG subclasses determination, and testing of specific antibody titers to recall antigens. B cells were analyzed by flow cytometry and the relevant percentage of membrane surface expression of CD27, IgM, IgD was evaluated. In our cohort, one of 13 children (7.7%) had a complete IgA deficiency, four of 13 (30.7%) had minor immunoglobulin abnormalities, and five (38%) had an impaired production of specific antibodies. Five of 13 children (38%) had recurrent infections. Interestingly, peripheral CD27+ B cells were reduced in our patients as compared with age-matched healthy controls, and this decrement was statistically significant for IgM+ IgD+ CD27+ B cells. Immunoglobulin abnormalities were associated with the occurrence of recurrent infections. We conclude that a significant proportion of patients with DiGeorge syndrome have defective humoral immunity, which may represent an additional pathogenic mechanism underlying the increased susceptibility to infections. Whether the decreased CD27+ B-cell subset might be one of the defects that contribute to impaired humoral immunity, and to susceptibility to infection remains to be elucidated.

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