Alloimmunization against red blood cells (RBCs) is the main immunological risk associated with transfusion in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). However, about 50-70% of SCD patients never get immunized despite frequent transfusion. In murine models, CD4(+) T cells play a key role in RBC alloimmunization. We therefore explored and compared the CD4(+) T-cell phenotypes and functions between a group of SCD patients (n = 11) who never became immunized despite a high transfusion regimen and a group of SCD patients (n = 10) who had become immunized (at least against Kidd antigen b) after a low transfusion regimen. We studied markers of CD4(+) T-cell function, including TLR, that directly control lymphocyte function, and their spontaneous cytokine production. We also tested responders for the cytokine profile in response to Kidd antigen b peptides. Low TLR2/TLR3 expression and, unexpectedly, strong expression of CD40 on CD4(+) T cells were associated with the nonresponder status, whereas spontaneous expression of IL-10 by CD4(+) T cells and weak Tbet expression were associated with the responder status. A Th17 profile was predominant in responders when stimulated by Jb(k) . These findings implicate CD4(+) T cells in alloimmunization in humans and suggest that they may be exploited to differentiate responders from nonresponders.
Keywords: Alloimmunization; CD4+ T cells; Jkb; Sickle cell disease; Th17.
© 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.