Down syndrome B-lymphocyte subpopulations, intrinsic defect or decreased T-lymphocyte help

Pediatr Res. 2010 May;67(5):563-9. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181d4ecc1.


Down syndrome (DS) is known for increased incidence of respiratory infections and autoimmune diseases, indicating impaired immunity. Until now, attention has been mainly focused on T lymphocytes. Therefore, we determined B-lymphocyte subpopulations in 95 children with DS compared with 33 age-matched control (AMC) children. DS serum immunoglobulin levels were compared with 962 non-DS children with recurrent infections. The results were combined with clinical data. Transitional and naive B lymphocytes are profoundly decreased in the children with DS. This could be caused by an intrinsic B-lymphocyte defect resulting in (partial) failure of B-lymphocyte generation, decreased antigen-induced proliferation and/or increased apoptosis, or by decreased proliferation due to deficient T-lymphocyte help, or a combination of these. The decreased CD27, CD21, and CD23 cells are reminiscent of common variable immunodeficiency and suggestive of disturbed peripheral B-lymphocyte maturation. Immunoglobulin levels in DS are abnormal-as has been described before-and different from non-DS children with recurrent infections. We conclude that the humoral immune system is abnormal in DS, but could not find a relation between B-lymphocyte subsets, immunoglobulins and clinical features of the children with DS in our cohort, nor could we answer the question whether DS lymphocytes are truly intrinsically deficient, or could all findings be explained by deficient T-lymphocyte help.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / microbiology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / virology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology*
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / microbiology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / virology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / microbiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / virology
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulins