14 patients with hemophilia were studied for the distribution of T cell subsets, the presence of antibody to lymphadenopathy-associated or human T lymphotropic virus type III (LAV/HTLV-III), and their responsiveness in autologous mixed lymphocyte reactions. In addition, mitogen and alloantigen responsiveness and Interleukin-2 production were investigated. Seven patients were found to have low Leu 3a/Leu 2a (T4/T8) ratios; eight patients had antibody to LAV/HTLV-III; and an additional patient had acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Responsiveness to mitogens and alloantigens as well as Interleukin-2 production were comparable with those of healthy individuals. However, patients with low ratio, many of whom had antibodies to LAV/HTLV-III, had a highly deficient autologous mixed lymphocyte reaction. This reduced response of T cells to autologous non-T cells could not be corrected by elimination of Leu 2a/T8 cells, which indicated that there was a preferential loss of the Leu 3a cell subset(s) which responded to autologous non-T cells. Thus, these patients have a deficiency of intercellular communication within their immune system.
J S Smolen, P Bettelheim, U Köller, S McDougal, W Graninger, T A Luger, W Knapp, K Lechner