A diagnostic assay for the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and its variant forms.

K. A. Siminovitch, W. L. Greer, A. Novogrodsky, B. Axelsson, A. K. Somani, M. Peacocke

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BACKGROUND: The Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is an X-linked recessive disease characterized by severe thrombocytopenia, eczema, and impaired immunity. While the diagnosis is usually straightforward, the syndrome may be expressed in an attenuated form, a phenotype which is difficult to distinguish from other types of congenital thrombocytopenia. Although a molecular-based assay for diagnosis of the spectrum of WAS patients has not been available, recent data indicate that WAS is associated with a specific profile of impaired mitogen responsiveness and suggest that detection of this abnormality may provide a diagnostic marker for all forms of the disease. To address this issue, we have studied patients with classical and atypical WAS for their lymphocyte proliferative responses to four T cell mitogenic stimuli and compared their response patterns to those detected in unaffected children. METHODS: Clinical histories and informed consent were obtained from 23 patients with either classical or putative (ie, atypical) WAS, 16 subjects with other disorders, and 12 healthy children. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) collected from patients and controls were resuspended in culture medium, stimulated with the T cell mitogens phytohemagglutinin (PHA), concanavalin A (Con A), neuraminidase/galactose oxidase (NAGO), or periodate, and cultured for 60 h in 0.2 mL aliquots. Following a 20 h pulse with 3H-thymidine, cultures were harvested and the 3H-thymidine uptake was evaluated by liquid scintillation counting. RESULTS: The most striking observation involved response to periodate. While lymphocytes from all healthy control children proliferated in response to periodate treatment, cells from both classical as well as atypical WAS patients consistently failed to proliferate in response to this mitogen. By contrast, lymphocyte proliferative responses to PHA, Con A, and NAGO were detected in all patients and controls, although responses generally were lower in cells from classical WAS patients compared to other children. In two WAS patients, bone marrow transplantation and clinical improvement were associated with a change from no periodate response (pre-transplant) to periodate responsiveness (post-transplant). In contrast to the WAS patients, cells from patients with other hematologic and primary immune deficiency diseases responded uniformly to all four mitogens, including periodate. CONCLUSIONS: The data presented here indicate that T cells from patients with either classical or attenuated WAS fail to undergo proliferation in response to periodate, an agent that induced extensive T cell mitogenesis of cells from all healthy controls as well as patients with diseases other than WAS. As the WAS patients' cells did proliferate in response to treatment with other T cell mitogens, it appears that periodate induced T cell proliferation is selectively impaired in WAS and that detection of this defect may be of value in the distinction of both classical and attenuated WAS from other thrombocytopenic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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