Flow cytometry study of lymphocyte subsets in malnourished and well-nourished children with bacterial infections

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 May;11(3):577-80. doi: 10.1128/CDLI.11.3.577-580.2004.


Protein-energy malnutrition is the primary cause of immune deficiency in children across the world. It has been related to changes in peripheral T-lymphocyte subsets. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of infection and malnutrition on the proportion of peripheral-lymphocyte subsets in well-nourished non-bacterium-infected (WN), well-nourished bacterium-infected (WNI), and malnourished bacterium-infected (MNI) children by flow cytometry. A prospectively monitored cohort of 15 MNI, 12 WNI, and 17 WN children was studied. All the children were 3 years old or younger and had only bacterial infections. Results showed a significant decrease in the proportion of T CD3(+) (P < 0.05 for relative and P < 0.03 for absolute values), CD4(+) (P < 0.01 for relative and absolute values), and CD8(+) (P < 0.05 for relative values) lymphocyte subsets in WNI children compared to the results seen with WN children. Additionally, B lymphocytes in MNI children showed significant lower values (CD20(+) P < 0.02 for relative and P < 0.05 for absolute values) in relation to the results seen with WNI children. These results suggest that the decreased proportions of T-lymphocyte subsets observed in WNI children were associated with infection diseases and that the incapacity to increase the proportion of B lymphocyte was associated with malnutrition. This low proportion of B lymphocytes may be associated with the mechanisms involved in the immunodeficiency of malnourished children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD20 / analysis
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD56 Antigen / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / complications
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / immunology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • HLA-DR Antigens / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / complications
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / immunology*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / chemistry
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Male
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Patient Selection
  • Receptors, IgG / analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology


  • Antigens, CD20
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD56 Antigen
  • CD8 Antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Receptors, IgG