Peripheral blood CD3 and CD4 T-lymphocyte reduction correlates with severity of liver cirrhosis

Int J Clin Lab Res. 1995;25(3):153-6. doi: 10.1007/BF02592558.


Immunological disturbances with impairment of immune function and a higher incidence of lymphoproliferative disorders and other malignancies have been described in liver cirrhosis patients. To investigate the pathogenetic mechanism(s) involved in such associated we looked for a possible imbalance in peripheral blood T-lymphocyte subpopulations in patients with liver cirrhosis of differing severity. Immunophenotyping and counts of peripheral blood T-lymphocyte subpopulations were carried out using monoclonal antibodies conjugated with different fluorochromes in 31 consecutive cirrhotic patients and 23 matched healthy volunteers. Univariate and multivariate analyses of lymphocyte phenotype counts were performed and odds ratios were computed. Statistically significant associations, according to both univariate and multivariate analyses, were found between case/control status and mean CD3 and CD4 T-lymphocyte counts (P < 0.0001). A strong correlation was found between the Pugh's index and CD3 and CD4 lymphocyte counts, with a clear reduction of these phenotypes with increasing liver cirrhosis. Median CD3 and CD4 values were 2,283 and 1,329/microliters respectively among controls and 896, 801, and 492/microliters and 515, 514, and 307/microliters, respectively in categories A, B, and C of Pugh's classification. Very high odds ratios were found using the median values of CD3 and CD4 as a threshold. There was a statistically significant decrease for each of the T-cell phenotypes studied (CD2, CD3, CD4, CD8, CD16, CD19, CD20, CD56, CD57) between patients and controls (P < 0.0001). The progressive and severity-related decrease in mean peripheral blood CD3 and CD4 counts in liver cirrhosis suggests a progressive impairment of protective immune function and may be a factor facilitating malignancy in cirrhotic patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • CD3 Complex / analysis*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Subsets
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes / chemistry*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology


  • Biomarkers
  • CD3 Complex