, Volume 88, Issue 9, pp 847-853
Date: 23 Jan 2009

Cellular and humoral immune alterations in thymectomized patients for thymoma

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The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of thymectomy on kinetics of the immune reconstitution in thymoma patients. Nine consecutive patients with completely resected thymoma were enrolled. Immunophenotype analysis (total lymphocytes, CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19, NK subsets) and detection of autoantibodies at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after thymectomy were planned. A prolonged inversion of CD4/CD8 ratio was present, due to a diminished number of CD4+ cells; CD8+ cell numbers remaining constantly normal at different time points; CD19+ cells remained for a long time understatement, achieving almost normal levels at 24 months; and NK cells always showed a normal amount. Autoantibodies against the muscle acetylcholine receptor were detected in four patients (44.4%) at the time of diagnosis, while antinuclear antibody were detected in eight patients (88.8%) at different time points during postthymectomy. A high incidence of multiple primary neoplasms was observed (66.6% of cases). Our study showed that cellular and humoral immune alterations are a common sequelae of postthymectomy. Further studies, a longer surveillance and a cooperative approach, due to the rarity of the disease, are necessary to define eventual implications of immune alterations on patient’s outcome.