Immunoregulatory disorders associated with hereditary angioedema. II. Serologic and cellular abnormalities.
Hereditary angioedema is defined biochemically by a deficiency in the functional activity of the inhibitor of Cl, Cl esterase inhibitor (Cl INH). Deficiency of this regulator of the early classic pathway of complement results in chronic activation of this cascade with a resultant deficiency of C4 and C2. Ninety-seven patients with either complicated (associated with autoimmune disorders) or uncomplicated hereditary angioedema were evaluated for laboratory evidence of immunoregulatory defects. Specific cellular and humoral abnormalities were found and included increased mean total lymphocyte counts, increased mean Leu 4+ (total) and Leu 3+ (helper) T cells, an increased mean Leu 3/Leu 2 (helper/suppressor T cell) ratio, polyclonal B cell activation, and evidence of circulating immune complexes. C4 functional titers were negatively correlated with percent Leu 3+ cells and absolute Leu 3+ cell numbers. We failed to detect any evidence of immune deficiency in this population, and yet a statistically significant number of patients demonstrated elevated levels of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus antigens when patients were compared to a control group. Thus, early classic complement pathway activation and/or partial complement component deficiency may effect T cell subpopulations and B cell activation. However, additional predisposing factors (e.g., genetic or viral) appear necessary for the development of a particular autoimmune disease in hypocomplementemic patients.
Brickman, CM; Tsokos, GC; Chused, TM; Balow, JE; Lawley, TJ; Santaella, M; Hammer, CH; Linton, GF; Frank, MM
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