Functional and phenotypic changes in circulating lymphocytes from hospitalized Zambian children with measles

Judith J. Ryon, William J. Moss, Mwaka Monze, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Measles is associated with immunosuppression and increased susceptibility to secondary infections and is a particular problem in developing countries. Lymphocyte changes accompanying immune activation and regulation of the immune response may contribute to immunosuppression. To evaluate lymphocyte changes during measles, children (n= 274) hospitalized with measles in Lusaka, Zambia, were evaluated at entry, discharge, and 1-month follow-up and compared to healthy Zambian children (n= 98). Lymphopenia was present on hospital admission and reflected decreased CD4 and CD8 T cells but resolved quickly. Lymphopenia was most marked in girls, in those with temperatures of >38.5°C, and in malnourished children. CD4/CD8 ratios were decreased at all time points and were lower in boys than in girls at discharge and follow-up. Spontaneous death occurred in cultured lymphocytes, and the proportions of freshly isolated cells undergoing apoptosis, based on annexin V and propidium iodide staining, were increased. Surface Fas was increased on both CD4 and CD8 T cells compared to controls, and expression was greater on CD4 T cells and was inversely correlated with lymphocyte viability in culture at study entry. Mitogen stimulation of lymphocytes improved viability, but inhibitors of Fas, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, and TNF did not. Plasma levels of β2 microglobulin and soluble Fas, Fas ligand, CD8, CD4, and TNF receptor were increased, and soluble CD8 was higher in boys than in girls. The multiple effects of measles on lymphocytes from Zambian children include decreased numbers in circulation, increased activation, and increased susceptibility to cell death, with substantive differences in the magnitude of these changes between boys and girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)994-1003
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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