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Peripheral blood T lymphocyte changes in multiple sclerosis: a marker of disease progression rather than of relapse?
  1. A J Thompson,
  2. J Brazil,
  3. C A Whelan,
  4. E A Martin,
  5. M Hutchinson,
  6. C Feighery


    A serial study of peripheral blood T lymphocytes in 27 patients with clinically definite multiple sclerosis and 11 healthy controls was carried out over a 12 month period. This showed that contrary to many previous reports, relapses were not consistently associated with reduced numbers of peripheral blood suppressor T lymphocytes or any other T cells. Persistently low T cells numbers, including both the helper and suppressor T cell subsets, were, however, associated with disease activity as measured by the development of increased disability during the course of the study. This was true both for the patients with relapsing/remitting disease and those with progressive disease. The importance of carrying out a serial study was emphasised by the consistent and significant differences that were detected between individuals in both the control and the patient groups. A serial study is the most reliable means by which clinical events can clearly be correlated with laboratory estimations. The association in this study between the development of increased disability and persistently low levels of peripheral blood T lymphocytes suggest that both may be related to the underlying disease process in multiple sclerosis.

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