Aims: In view of the conflicting evidence of helper T cell type 1 (Th1) or type 2 (Th2) pattern of cytokine synthesis in childhood idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) this study examined the balance of Th1 and Th2 which are characterized by intracellular cytokine production of interferon-gamma (IFNgamma) and interleukin-4 (IL-4), respectively.
Subjects and methods: Sixteen children with steroid-sensitive INS (mean age 9.0 years) were included in this study, together with 15 healthy normal children (mean age 7.9 years) for the control group. Intracellular production of both IFNgamma and IL-4 in helper T cell (CD4+ cell) was investigated by a 3-color flow cytometry.
Results: The cross-sectional data showed no significant differences of percentages of Th0 (IFNgamma+ IL-4+ CD4+ cell), Th1 (IFNgamma+ lL-4- CD4+ cell) and Th2 (IFNgamma- IL-4+ CD4+ cell) in CD4+ cells (p > 0.05). The Th1/Th2 ratio during nephrotic relapse did not differ from those during nephrotic remission and in normal healthy children (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: We conclude that there is no significant skew of Th1/Th2 balance in childhood INS and that the cardinal immunological abnormality does not lie in helper T cells but in other cells, such as suppressor/cytotoxic T cells, natural killer cells or monocytes/macrophage. To clarify the pathogenesis of INS, comprehensive studies for these cells would be worthwhile.