JOURNAL ARTICLE
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In vitro cell death of activated lymphocytes in Omenn's syndrome.

Omenn's syndrome (OS) is characterized by erythrodermia, hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, hypereosinophilia and elevated IgE levels associated with increased susceptibility to severe infections. Peripheral blood T cells, though usually present in normal number, show an activated phenotype (including an increased expression of CD95/Fas), a Th2 pattern of cytokine secretion and defective proliferative response to mitogens. In this report, we demonstrate that T cells from patients with OS undergo an excessive cell death in vitro resulting from two mechanisms. First, a substantial number of peripheral blood lymphocytes from OS patients die in unstimulated cultures (p = 0.009 vs. healthy controls). This spontaneous apoptosis is associated with reduced expression of bcl-2 gene product (p < 0.05) and can be prevented by addition of interleukin (IL)-2 (which also prevents down-modulation of bcl-2), while is independent from CD95 signaling. Second, lymphocytes from OS patients are highly susceptible to activation-induced cell death (AICD) induced with mitogens. This mechanism is largely independent from IL-2, while it can be significantly inhibited blocking CD95 with an IgG2b monoclonal antibody (mAb). The dependence of AICD from signals transduced via CD95 was confirmed showing that cross-linking CD95 with an IgM mAb induces a higher cell death in purified CD4+ CD45R0+ cells from OS patients than in controls (comparable for CD95 expression). Both mechanisms of cell death observed in this study result from lymphocyte hyperactivation occurring in vivo in these patients and may contribute to functional T cell defects of OS.

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