Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) induces changes in the immune system, both acutely and chronically. To better understand changes in the chronic phase of SCI, we performed a prospective, observational study in a research institute and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of an academic medical center to examine immune system parameters, including peripheral immune cell populations, in individuals with chronic SCI as compared to uninjured individuals. Here, we describe the relative frequencies of T cell populations in individuals with chronic SCI as compared to uninjured individuals. We show that the frequency of CD3+ and CD3+ CD4+ T cells are decreased in individuals with chronic SCI, although activated (HLA-DR+) CD4+ T cells are elevated in chronic SCI. We also examined regulatory T cells (Tregs), defined as CD3+ CD4+ CD25+ CD127lo and CCR4+, HLA-DR+ or CCR4+ HLA-DR+. To our knowledge, we provide the first evidence that CCR4+, HLA-DR+ or CCR4+ HLA-DR+ Tregs are expanded in individuals with SCI. These data support additional functional studies of T cells isolated from individuals with chronic SCI, where alterations in T cell homeostasis may contribute to immune dysfunction, such as immunity against infections or the persistence of chronic inflammation.
Faculty, Northwell Researcher
School of Medicine; Northwell Health
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Surgery