Sara Ferrando-Martínez, Raquel Lorente, Dolores Gurbindo, Ma Isabel De José, Manuel Leal, Ma Angeles Muñoz-Fernández, Rafael Correa-Rocha.
Objective: To perform an extensive analysis of the immune status of asymptomatic children with the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, with special emphasis on the regulatory T cells (Treg) population.
Study design: Analysis of thymic function, frequency and absolute counts of immune subsets, and phenotype of Treg were performed in 10 asymptomatic children bearing the 22q11.2 deletion and compared with 12 age-matched, healthy children.
Results: Children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome showed a curtailed thymic output, lower T-cell levels, and a homeostatic deregulation in the CD4 T-cell compartment, characterized by a greater proliferative history in the naïve CD4 T-cell subset. Treg numbers were markedly reduced in children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and remaining Treg showed mostly an activated phenotype.
Conclusions: Reduced thymic output in children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome could be related with an increased proliferation in the naïve CD4 T-cell compartment and the consequent Treg activation to ensure that T-cell expansion remains under control. Deregulated peripheral homeostasis and loss of suppressive capacity by Treg could compromise the integrity of T-cell immunity during adulthood and play a relevant role in the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases reported in patients with the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.