Gamma delta T lymphocytosis associated with common variable immunodeficiency

J Clin Immunol. 1997 Jan;17(1):34-42. doi: 10.1023/a:1027384311897.


We present the case of a 28-year-old Caucasian female with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) since age 5 who had a long history of hospitalizations for unexplained fevers and pulmonary infiltrates. The patient developed mild lymphocytosis 7 months prior to our evaluation. Flow cytometry of peripheral blood revealed an expansion of gamma delta T lymphocytes, mild CD4 T lymphocytopenia, and a reduced CD4/CD8 ratio (0.2). Two subpopulations of gamma delta T lymphocytes were found (CD3+/CD4-/CD8+, 47%; CD3+/CD4-/CD8-, 53%), the vast majority of which expressed V-delta 1. An infectious cause for the patient's gamma delta T lymphocytosis could not be found. The sputum was chronically colonized with Staphylococcus aureus, and the organism produced TSST-1 in vitro. A bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) revealed marked lymphocytosis, but gamma delta T lymphocytes were not overrepresented in the BAL. Lymphocyte functional studies revealed poor proliferative responses to mitogens and staphylococcal superantigens and diminished cytokine production. V-delta 1 T lymphocytes from the patient's blood were not expanded in vitro in response to staphylococcal superantigens. TCR gene rearrangement studies confirmed the presence of J gamma and J beta 1 clonal rearrangements accounting for only a small subpopulation of the gamma delta T lymphocytes. These studies were repeated 5 months later and were unchanged. A bone marrow biopsy was negative for leukemia. Hence, the cause of the patient's gamma delta T lymphocytosis could not be determined despite evaluation for underlying malignancy, occult infection, or superantigen-driven stimulation. The patient ultimately died of progressive respiratory insufficiency. The state of current knowledge regarding gamma delta T lymphocytosis, decreased production of alpha beta T lymphocytes, and a low CD4/ CD8 ratio in association with CVID is discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / genetics
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / immunology*
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / metabolism*
  • Enterotoxins / immunology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytosis / genetics
  • Lymphocytosis / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Superantigens / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Superantigens
  • enterotoxin F, Staphylococcal