T-cell homeostasis in paediatric multiple sclerosis: old cells in young patients.

 

This very interesting study from Germany looked for early signs of homeostatic and functional abnormalities in conventional (Tcon) and regulatory T cells (Treg) in paediatric patients with MS.

The study included 30 paediatric patients, 26 adult patients and 67 age-matched controls and the researchers studied the composition of the peripheral T-call compartment and Treg function.

They found that proportions of naïve T cells were 10-20% higher in children than in adults, reflecting the age-related decline. They found that paediatric MS patients had lower numbers of naïve T cells, among them recent thymic emigrants (RTE), while some memory T cells were increased. When they looked at the Treg compartment, there was reduced RTE numbers with an associated dampening of the suppressive capacities of total Treg. These changes in circulating T cells were the same as the pattern seen in adults.

Overall, the ratios of naïve and memory T-cell subsets matched those of 20- to 30- year-older controls, indicating signs of early thymic involution in paediatric patients with MS. This raises the possibility than an intrinsic compromise in thymic-dependent T-cell neogenesis may contribute to MS pathogenesis. 

Authors: Balint B, Haas J

Source: Neurology. 2013 Aug 2. [Epub ahead of print]

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