Human FOXN1-deficiency is associated with αβ double-negative and FoxP3+ T-cell expansions that are distinctly modulated upon thymic transplantation.
Forkhead box N1 (FOXN1) is a transcription factor crucial for thymic epithelium development and prevention of its involution. Investigation of a patient with a rare homozygous FOXN1 mutation (R255X), leading to alopecia universalis and thymus aplasia, unexpectedly revealed non-maternal circulating T-cells, and, strikingly, large numbers of aberrant double-negative αβ T-cells (CD4negCD8neg, DN) and regulatory-like T-cells. These data raise the possibility that a thymic rudiment persisted, allowing T-cell development, albeit with disturbances in positive/negative selection, as suggested by DN and FoxP3+ cell expansions. Although regulatory-like T-cell numbers normalized following HLA-mismatched thymic transplantation, the αβDN subset persisted 5 years post-transplantation. Involution of thymus allograft likely occurred 3 years post-transplantation based on sj/βTREC ratio, which estimates intrathymic precursor T-cell divisions and, consequently, thymic explant output. Nevertheless, functional immune-competence was sustained, providing new insights for the design of immunological reconstitution strategies based on thymic transplantation, with potential applications in other clinical settings.
Albuquerque, AS; Marques, JG; Silva, SL; Ligeiro, D; Devlin, BH; Dutrieux, J; Cheynier, R; Pignata, C; Victorino, RMM; Markert, ML; Sousa, AE
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