Background: Profound combined immunodeficiency can present with normal numbers of T and B cells, and therefore the functional defect of the cellular and humoral immune response is often not recognized until the first severe clinical manifestation. Here we report a patient of consanguineous descent presenting at 13 months of age with hypogammaglobulinemia, Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia, and a suggestive family history.
Objective: We sought to identify the genetic alteration in a patient with combined immunodeficiency and characterize human caspase recruitment domain family, member 11 (CARD11), deficiency.
Methods: Molecular, immunologic, and functional assays were performed.
Results: The immunologic characterization revealed only subtle changes in the T-cell and natural killer cell compartment, whereas B-cell differentiation, although normal in number, was distinctively blocked at the transitional stage. Genetic evaluation revealed a homozygous deletion of exon 21 in CARD11 as the underlying defect. This deletion abrogated protein expression and activation of the canonical nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) pathway in lymphocytes after antigen receptor or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate stimulation, whereas CD40 signaling in B cells was preserved. The abrogated activation of the canonical NF-κB pathway was associated with severely impaired upregulation of inducible T-cell costimulator, OX40, cytokine production, proliferation of T cells, and B cell-activating factor receptor expression on B cells.
Conclusion: Thus in patients with CARD11 deficiency, the combination of impaired activation and especially upregulation of inducible T-cell costimulator on T cells, together with severely disturbed peripheral B-cell differentiation, apparently leads to a defective T-cell/B-cell cooperation and probably germinal center formation and clinically results in severe immunodeficiency. This report discloses the crucial and nonredundant role of canonical NF-κB activation and specifically CARD11 in the antigen-specific immune response in human subjects.
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