Congenital hypoplastic anemia (Diamond-Blackfan syndrome) is thought to involve the erythropoietic cell line alone. In this study, the evaluation of lymphocyte function in five patients with this syndrome revealed a number of abnormalities. Peripheral blood T lymphocyte percentages as assessed by monoclonal antibodies were decreased in three patients. T-helper/T-suppressor cell (OKT4:OKT8) ratios were almost unity in four of the five patients. We usually find a ratio of 2:1 in normal populations. Studies of lymphocyte-mediated suppression of lymphoproliferation demonstrated an inability to generate concanavalin A-induced suppressor cells in the same four patients and impaired prostaglandin-mediated suppression in two patients. Co-culture studies revealed a T lymphocyte-mediated suppression of erythropoiesis in a single patient, who also showed suppression of the mixed lymphocyte reaction. The four remaining patients showed no excessive suppressor effects either upon erythropoiesis or lymphoproliferation. These studies demonstrate that in congenital hypoplastic anemia, the cellular defect is not restricted to the erythroid progenitor cells, but extends to the lymphocytes.
J L Finlay, N T Shahidi, S Horowitz, W Borcherding, R Hong