Lymphocyte subpopulations anomalies in lung cancer patients and relationship to the stage of disease

Gian Luigi Mazzoccoli, Mario Balzanelli, Antonio Giuliani, Angelo De Cata, Marco La Viola, Angelo Michele Carella, Giovanni Bianco, Roberto Tarquini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The host immune response is important in the natural history of neoplastic disease. In order to evaluate alterations of immune function associated with cancer we analyzed the nyctohemeral profile of lymphocyte subpopulations in peripheral blood of cancer patients. The study was carried out on seven healthy volunteers (mean age ± s.e. 68.8 ± 1.92), seven patients with I and II stage lung cancer (mean afer ± s.e. 67.2 ± 0.80), seven patients with III and IV stage lung cancer (mean age ± s.e. 69.5 ± 2.26). The area under the curve (AUC) and the presence of circadian rhythmicity were evaluated. Results: The most striking differences were a statistically significant decrease of CD8 (T suppressor/cytotoxic subset) and CD8(bright) (T suppressor subset) in cancer patients, with a loss of normal circadian rhythmicity, and a statistically significant increase of CD16 (natural killer cells) in cancer patients, especially with I and II stage disease, with a clear circadian rhythm present in all the groups. A statistically significant decrease of δTcS1 (epitope of the variable domain of δ chain of T-cell receptor 1) was observed in the subjects with I and II stage lung cancer, with a loss of circadian rhythmicity in the two groups of cancer patients. TcRδ1 (epitope of the constant domain of δ chain of T-cell receptor 1) was significantly decreased in cancer patients, but a clear circadian rhythm was present in these subjects. No significant differences among the groups were found in the values of CD2 (total T cells), CD4 (T helper/inducer subset), CD8(dim) (T cytotoxic subset), CD4/CD8 ratio, HLA-DR (B cells and activated T cells), CD20 (total B cells) and CD25 (T activated lymphocytes with expression of the α chain of interleukin-2 receptor). Nyctohemeral variations of CD2 in control subjects and in I-II stage cancer patients and of CD4 and CD20 in III-IV stage cancer patients presented circadian rhythmicity. Conclusions: The results suggest that lung cancer is associated with alterations in the proportions and nyctohemeral profiles of various lymphocyte subsets, related to the stage of disease and probably the expression of an altered immune function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-209
Number of pages5
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


  • Circadian rhythmicity
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphocyte subpopulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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