Phenotypic Analysis of Human Lymph Nodes in Subjects With New-Onset Type 1 Diabetes and Healthy Individuals by Flow Cytometry

Front Immunol. 2019 Oct 31;10:2547. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.02547. eCollection 2019.


Background: Ultrasound guided sampling of human lymph node (LN) combined with advanced flow cytometry allows phenotypic analysis of multiple immune cell subsets. These may provide insights into immune processes and responses to immunotherapies not apparent from analysis of the blood. Methods: Ultrasound guided inguinal LN samples were obtained by both fine needle aspiration (FNA) and core needle biopsy in 10 adults within 8 weeks of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) and 12 age-matched healthy controls at two study centers. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were obtained on the same occasion. Samples were transported same day to the central laboratory and analyzed by multicolour flow cytometry. Results: LN sampling was well-tolerated and yielded sufficient cells for analysis in 95% of cases. We confirmed the segregation of CD69+ cells into LN and the predominance of CD8+ Temra cells in blood previously reported. In addition, we demonstrated clear enrichment of CD8+ naïve, FOXP3+ Treg, class-switched B cells, CD56bright NK cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (DC) in LNs as well as CD4+ T cells of the Th2 phenotype and those expressing Helios and Ki67. Conventional NK cells were virtually absent from LNs as were Th22 and Th1Th17 cells. Paired correlation analysis of blood and LN in the same individuals indicated that for many cell subsets, especially those associated with activation: such as CD25+ and proliferating (Ki67+) T cells, activated follicular helper T cells and class-switched B cells, levels in the LN compartment could not be predicted by analysis of blood. We also observed an increase in Th1-like Treg and less proliferating (Ki67+) CD4+ T cells in LN from T1D compared to control LNs, changes which were not reflected in the blood. Conclusions: LN sampling in humans is well-tolerated. We provide the first detailed "roadmap" comparing immune subsets in LN vs. blood emphasizing a role for differentiated effector T cells in the blood and T cell regulation, B cell activation and memory in the LN. For many subsets, frequencies in blood, did not correlate with LN, suggesting that LN sampling would be valuable for monitoring immuno-therapies where these subsets may be impacted.

Keywords: autoimmunity; biomarker; immune monitoring; lymph node; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Male