Mass Cytometry Reveals Global Immune Remodeling with Multi-lineage Hypersensitivity to Type I Interferon in Down Syndrome

Cell Rep. 2019 Nov 12;29(7):1893-1908.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.10.038.


People with Down syndrome (DS; trisomy 21) display a different disease spectrum relative to the general population, including lower rates of solid malignancies and higher incidence of neurological and autoimmune conditions. However, the mechanisms driving this unique clinical profile await elucidation. We completed a deep mapping of the immune system in adults with DS using mass cytometry to evaluate 100 immune cell types, which revealed global immune dysregulation consistent with chronic inflammation, including key changes in the myeloid and lymphoid cell compartments. Furthermore, measurement of interferon-inducible phosphorylation events revealed widespread hypersensitivity to interferon-α in DS, with cell-type-specific variations in downstream intracellular signaling. Mechanistically, this could be explained by overexpression of the interferon receptors encoded on chromosome 21, as demonstrated by increased IFNAR1 surface expression in all immune lineages tested. These results point to interferon-driven immune dysregulation as a likely contributor to the developmental and clinical hallmarks of DS.

Trial registration: NCT02864108.

Keywords: CyTOF; Down syndrome; JAK/STAT; autoimmunity; immune dysregulation; inflammation; interferon; mass cytometry; single cell; trisomy 21.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Down Syndrome / immunology*
  • Down Syndrome / pathology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Interferon-alpha

Associated data