Relationship between different subpopulations of circulating CD4+ T lymphocytes and microvascular or systemic oxidative stress in humans.

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Different components of the immune system, including innate and adaptive immunity (T effector lymphocytes and T regulatory lymphocytes - TREGs) may be involved in the development of hypertension, vascular injury and inflammation. However, no data are presently available in humans about possible relationships between T-lymphocyte subtypes and microvascular oxidative stress. Our objective was to investigate possible relationships between T-lymphocyte subtypes and systemic and microvascular oxidative stress in a population of normotensive subjects and hypertensive patients.


In the present study we enrolled 24 normotensive subjects and 12 hypertensive patients undergoing an elective surgical intervention. No sign of local or systemic inflammation was present. All patients underwent a biopsy of subcutaneous fat during surgery. A peripheral blood sample was obtained before surgery for assessment of T lymphocyte subpopulations by flow cytometry and circulating indices of oxidative stress.


A significant direct correlation was observed between Th1 lymphocytes and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (mainly in microvessels). Additionally, significant inverse correlations were observed between ROS and total TREGs, or TREGs subtypes. Significant correlations were detected between circulating indices of oxidative stress/inflammation and indices of microvascular morphology/Th1 and Th17 lymphocytes. In addition, a significant inverse correlation was detected between TREGs in subcutaneous small vessels and C reactive protein.


Our data suggest that TREG lymphocytes may be protective against microvascular damage, probably because of their anti-oxidant properties, while Th1-Th17 lymphocytes seem to exert an opposite effect, confirming an involvement of adaptive immune system in microvascular damage.

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