, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 289-298

Age-related ranges of memory, activation, and cytotoxic markers on CD4 and CD8 cells in children

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The expression of markers defining functional subpopulations on the surface of CD4 and CD8 cells changes with disease. To monitor these changes in children, it is important to establish the age-related normal changes in marker expression due to maturation of the immune system. We have studied the expression of several functionally important molecules on both CD4 and CD8 cells in 168 children (aged 0–122 months) using monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry. Our results show that the percentage of CD4 cells decreases with age, while the CD8 percentage increases, resulting in a decrease in the CD4/CD8 ratio. The expression of CD45RO and CD29 increases with age, while CD45RA expression decreases, both on CD4 and CD8 cells. The expression of HLA-DR on both CD4 and CD8 cells, and of CD11a and CD57 on CD8 cells, is less clearly age dependent. The relationships between the marker percentages and age were not straightforward; the standard deviations and the skewness, as well as their mean values, varied as a function of age. The changes were modeled for each marker and age-specific centiles are presented.