Decreased Numbers of Regulatory T Cells Suggest Impaired Immune Tolerance in Children with Tourette Syndrome: A Preliminary Study

Ivana Kawikova, James F. Leckman, Holger Kronig, Lily Katsovich, Debra E. Bessen, Musie Ghebremichael, Alfred L.M. Bothwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Post-streptococcal autoimmune inflammation of basal ganglia was suggested to be an etiological factor in some cases of Tourette syndrome (TS). Since regulatory T (T reg) cells play a major role in preventing autoimmunity, we hypothesized that a defect in T reg cells may be present in children with TS. We also postulated that group A beta hemolytic streptococcal infections could promote autoimmune responses by releasing exotoxins (streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxins [SPE]). Methods: We analyzed peripheral blood of TS patients and healthy age-matched control subjects by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) on multiple occasions and determined the numbers of CD4+CD25+CD69- T reg cells. Further, we quantified the number of CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes with regard to Vbeta chains to which SPEs are known to bind. Results: A significant decrease in T reg cells was observed in patients with moderate to severe TS symptoms compared with healthy age-matched control children. A decrease in T reg cell number was also noted during symptom exacerbations in five out of six patients. Further, we found a significant decrease in numbers of CD8+Vbeta18+ T cells in moderate to severe TS patients. Conclusions: These data support our hypothesis that at least some TS patients may have a decreased capacity to inhibit autoreactive lymphocytes through a deficit in T reg cells. Interactions of host T cell immunity and microbial factors may also contribute to the pathogenesis of TS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume61
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Tourette syndrome
  • autoimmunity
  • regulatory T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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