• Article

T-cell subsets in healthy teenagers transition to the adult phenotype

Little is known about the normal range and variability of T-cell subsets in older children. We analyzed peripheral blood mononuclear cell subsets in 112 healthy children, ages 12-19 years (mean +/- SD: 15.4 +/- 1.9 years), using monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry. The study population included 28 blacks and 84 whites, with 59 boys and 53 girls. The mean +/- SD cell subset values were: CD3+ T cells, 74.0 +/- 7.8%; CD4+ helper-inducer T cells, 46.8 +/- 6.9%; CD8+ suppressor-cytotoxic T cells, 27.3 +/- 5.7%; CD4:CD8 helper:suppressor ratio, 1.81 +/- 0.57; CD16+ natural killer cells, 4.4 +/- 3.1%; CD19+ B cells, 10.0 +/- 5.3%; CD14+ monocytes, 20.0 +/- 6.5%; and HLA-DR cells, 15.4 +/- 4.8%. Overall, boys had a higher proportion of HLA-DR+ cells than girls, attributable to an increase in CD19+ B cells. Blacks tended to have a higher proportion of HLA-DR+ cells than whites, apparently due to an increase in activated T cells. Detailed analysis by age group revealed a striking transition in the pattern of CD4+ and CD8+ cell populations. The CD4:CD8 ratio, higher in boys than girls for ages 12-16, was reversed to the "adult" pattern in 17-19 year olds, with a higher CD4:CD8 ratio in girls. These data provide important baseline values for healthy children and stress the importance of establishing normative ranges for pediatric subjects separately from adults.


Tollerud, D. J., Ildstad, S. T., Brown, L. M., Clark, J. W., Blattner, W. A., Mann, D. L., ... Hoover, R. N. (1990). T-cell subsets in healthy teenagers: transition to the adult phenotype. Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, 56(1), 88-96.