The Ratio of Regulatory (FOXP3+) to Total (CD3+) T Cells Determined by Epigenetic Cell Counting and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: A Prospective Case-cohort Study in Non-diabetics

S. D. Barth, R. Kaaks, T. Johnson, V. Katzke, K. Gellhaus, J. J. Schulze, S. Olek, T. Kuhn

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Background: Experimental and clinical evidence indicate that inflammatory processes in atherogenesis and the development of cardiovascular complications are promoted by a loss of regulatory T cell (Treg)-mediated immunological tolerance to plaque antigens. Yet, the association between alterations of systemic Treg frequency and cardiovascular disease incidence remains uncertain. Methods: A nested case-cohort study was conducted within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heidelberg, comprising a random subcohort (n = 778) and primary cases of myocardial infarction (MI, n = 276) and ischemic stroke (n = 151). Pre-diagnostic FOXP3+ Treg and total CD3+ T-lymphocyte (tTL) frequencies in blood were measured by epigenetic-based, quantitative real-time PCR-assisted cell counting. Results: Multivariate, Prentice-weighted Cox regression analyses revealed that lower Treg/tTL ratios were not associated with the risk of either MI (lowest vs. highest sex-specific quartile; hazard ratio: 0.72, 95% confidence interval: 0.46 to 1.13; Ptrend = 0.51) or stroke (HR: 0.90, 95% CI: 0.51 to 1.60; Ptrend = 0.78). There were no correlations of Treg/tTL ratios with C-reactive protein, HbA1c, and various lipid parameters. Conclusions: Among middle-aged adults from the general population, imbalances in the relative frequency of Tregs within the total T cell compartment do not confer an increased risk of MI or stroke
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)151-156
Number of pages6
Early online date30 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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