Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Flow cytometric analysis of the CD4+ TCR Vβ repertoire in the peripheral blood of children with type 1 diabetes mellitus, systemic lupus erythematosus and age-matched healthy controls

Flora Tzifi12*, Maria Kanariou2, Marianna Tzanoudaki2, Constantinos Mihas3, Evangelia Paschali2, George Chrousos1 and Christina Kanaka-Gantenbein1

Author Affiliations

1 First Department of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, National Kapodistrian University of Athens, “Aghia Sophia” Children’s Hospital, Thivon & Papadiamantopoulou street, 11527 Athens, Greece

2 Department of Immunology & Histocompatibility, Specific Center & Referral Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies - Paediatric Immunology, “Aghia Sophia” Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece

3 Internal Medicine Department, Kimi General Hospital “G. Papanicolaou”, Kimi, Greece

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BMC Immunology 2013, 14:33  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-14-33

Published: 3 August 2013



Data regarding the quantitative expression of TCR Vβ subpopulations in children with autoimmune diseases provided interesting and sometimes conflicting results. The aim of the present study was to assess by comparative flow cytometric analysis the peripheral blood CD4+ TCR Vβ repertoire of children with an organ-specific autoimmune disorder, such as type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), in comparison to children with a systemic autoimmune disease, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) in comparison to healthy age-matched controls of the same ethnic origin. The CD4+ TCR Vβ repertoire was analysed by flow cytometry in three groups of participants: a) fifteen newly diagnosed children with T1DM (mean age: 9.2 ± 4.78 years old), b) nine newly diagnosed children with SLE, positive for ANA and anti-dsDNA, prior to treatment (mean age: 12.8 ±1.76 years old) and c) 31 healthy age-matched controls (mean age: 6.58 ± 3.65 years old), all of Hellenic origin.


CD4 + TCR Vβ abnormalities (± 3SD of controls) were observed mainly in SLE patients. Statistical analysis revealed that the CD4 + Vβ4 chain was significantly increased in patients with T1DM (p < 0.001), whereas CD4 + Vβ16 one was significantly increased in SLE patients (p < 0.001) compared to controls.


CD4 + Vβ4 and CD4 + Vβ16 chains could be possibly involved in the cascade of events precipitating the pathogenesis of T1DM and SLE in children, respectively.

TCR Vβ repertoire; Flow cytometry; T1DM; SLE; Children