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Hematology - Immunology - Physiology

Increased Number of Tc17 and Correlation with Th17 Cells in Patients with Immune Thrombocytopenia
Published: Monday, October 24, 2011
Author: Yu Hu et al.

by Yu Hu, Dao-xin Ma, Ning-ning Shan, Yuan-yuan Zhu, Xin-guang Liu, Lei Zhang, Shuang Yu, Chun-yan Ji, Ming Hou


IL-17-secreting CD8+ T cells (Tc17 subset) have recently been defined as a subpopulation of effector T cells implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. The role of Tc17 and correlation with Th17 cells in the pathophysiology of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) remain unsettled.

Design and Methods

We studied 47 ITP patients (20 newly-diagnosed and 27 with complete response) and 34 healthy controls. IL-17-producing CD3+CD8+ cells (Tc17) and IL-17-producing CD3+CD8- cells (Th17) were evaluated by flow cytometry and expressed as a percentage of the total number of CD3+ cells. Specific anti-platelet glycoprotein (GP) GPIIb/IIIa and/or GPIb/IX autoantibodies were measured by modified monoclonal antibody specific immobilization of platelet antigens. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells of ITP patients were isolated, incubated in the presence of 0, 0.25, 0.5, or 1 ┬Ámol/L of dexamethasone for 72 h, and collected to detect Tc17 and Th17 cells by flow cytometric analysis.


IL-17 was expressed on CD3+CD8- and CD3+CD8+ T cells. The percentages of Tc17 and Th17 cells in newly-diagnosed patients were significantly elevated compared to controls, and Tc17 was decreased after clinical treatment. The Th17:Tc17 ratio was significantly lower in newly-diagnosed patients compared with controls, and was increased in patients who had complete response. There was a significantly positive correlation between Tc17 and Th17 cells in the control group, but not in the ITP patients. A positive correlation existed between Tc17 and the CD8:CD4 ratio, as well as CD8+ cells in patients with ITP. The frequencies of Tc17 were marginally higher in autoantibody-negative patients than autoantibody-positive patients. Moreover, both Tc17 and Th17 cell percentages decreased as the concentration of dexamethasone in the culture media increased in ITP patients.


Tc17 and the Th17 subset are involved in the immunopathology of ITP. Blocking the abnormally increased number of Tc17 may be a reasonable therapeutic strategy for ITP.