Th1 and Th2 cytokine profiles in sickle cell disease

Acta Haematol. 2000;103(4):197-202. doi: 10.1159/000041049.


We have investigated the levels of Th1 (IL-2 and IFN-gamma) and Th2 (IL-4) cytokines in the plasma and supernatants following peripheral blood mononuclear cell culture and mitogen stimulation in a group of 39 patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) made up of 29 SS, 8 Sbeta-thal and 2 Hb SD in steady state. Five SS patients were studied during 7 episodes of vaso-occlusive crisis. Twenty-four control (3 Hb AS and 21 Hb AA) were also studied; 10 were acutely ill while 14 were healthy at the time of the study. The plasma levels of IL-2 and IFN-gamma were similar in the patients and the controls. However, plasma IL-4 was significantly higher among the steady-state SS patients than in the controls. While there was no significant difference in cytokine levels following mitogen stimulation in the different groups, plasma IL-2 to IL-4 and IFN-gamma to IL-4 ratios were significantly lower among the steady-state SS patients, indicating a possible Th2 bias in our sickle cell patients and suggesting a possible mechanism to explain the predisposition of SCD patients to bacterial infections. However, SS patients with good splenic function showed a relative Th1 bias, which may be an additional explanation for the protection against bacterial infections in such patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-2 / blood
  • Interleukin-4 / blood
  • Kuwait / epidemiology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging
  • Th1 Cells / chemistry
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / chemistry
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • alpha-Thalassemia / complications


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma