Mass Cytometry Studies of Patients With Autoimmune Endocrine Diseases Reveal Distinct Disease-Specific Alterations in Immune Cell Subsets

Front Immunol. 2020 Feb 21;11:288. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00288. eCollection 2020.


Although there is evidence that autoimmune diseases share similar immunogenetic mechanisms, studies comparing peripheral CD45+ cells from patients with autoimmune endocrine diseases in parallel are limited. In this study, we applied high-dimensional single-cell mass cytometry to phenotypically characterize PBMC from patients with new-onset (N-T1D) and long-standing type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), Graves' disease and autoimmune Addison's disease (AD), as well as healthy controls. The frequency of CD20loCD27hiCD38hiHLA-DRint plasmablasts, CD86+CD14loCD16+ non-classical monocytes and two subsets of CD56dimHLA-DR+IFN-γ+ NK cells were increased in patients with HT. Subsets of CD56dimCD69+HLA-DR- NK cells and CD8+ TEMRA cells, both expressing IFN-γ, were expanded and reduced, respectively, in the N-T1D group. In addition, patients with AD were characterized by an increased percentage of central memory CD8+ T cells that expressed CCR4, GATA3, and IL-2. We demonstrate that patients with N-T1D, HT, and AD had altered frequencies of distinct subsets within antigen-presenting and cytotoxic cell lineages. Previously unreported alterations of specific cell subsets were identified in samples from patients with HT and AD. Our study might contribute to a better understanding of shared and diverging immunological features between autoimmune endocrine diseases.

Keywords: Addison's disease; Graves' disease; Hashimoto's thyroiditis; NK cells; T cells; antigen-presenting cells; mass cytometry (CyTOF); type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / pathology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lanthanoid Series Elements / chemistry
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Lanthanoid Series Elements