T-cell dysregulation is associated with disease severity in Parkinson's Disease

J Neuroinflammation. 2021 Oct 30;18(1):250. doi: 10.1186/s12974-021-02296-8.


The dysregulation of peripheral immunity in Parkinson's Disease (PD) includes changes in both the relative numbers and gene expression of T cells. The presence of peripheral T-cell abnormalities in PD is well-documented, but less is known about their association to clinical parameters, such as age, age of onset, progression rate or severity of the disease. We took a detailed look at T-cell numbers, gene expression and activation in cross-sectional cohorts of PD patients and age-matched healthy controls by means of flow cytometry and NanoString gene expression assay. We show that the well-pronounced decrease in relative T-cell numbers in PD blood is mostly driven by a decrease of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and is primarily associated with the severity of the disease. In addition, we demonstrate that the expression of inflammatory genes in T cells from PD patients is also associated with disease severity. PD T cells presented with increased activation upon stimulation with phytohemagglutinin that also correlated with disease severity. In summary, our data suggest that the consequences of disease severity account for the changes in PD T cells, rather than age, age of onset, duration or the disease progression rate.

Keywords: Disease severity; Gene expression; PHA; Parkinson’s Disease; T cells.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*


  • Inflammation Mediators