Vol 44, No 3 (2006)
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Published online: 2006-09-19

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A false expression of CD8 antigens on CD4+ T cells in a routine flow cytometry analysis.

Karolina Bukowska-StrakovĂĄ, Jarosław Baran, Małgorzata Gawlicka, Danuta Kowalczyk
Folia Histochem Cytobiol 2006;44(3):179-183.


The two-colour flow cytometry method applied in a routine enumeration of peripheral blood T lymphocyte subsets reveals that in some patients the entire population of CD4+ lymphocytes seems to express CD8 determinants as well. However, expression of the CD8 antigens on the cell surface is much lower in comparison with typical CD8+ cells. Moreover, in one-colour staining with an anti-CD8 antibody, cells with weak CD8 expression are not observed and only one typical population of CD8+ lymphocytes is seen. Investigating this phenomenon, we showed that after washing patient cells in RPMI before CD4/CD8 staining, the CD4+ T cell population did not show CD8 "co-expression". These results suggest that CD4+ lymphocytes, which seem to co-express CD8 antigen, in fact do not have this antigen on their surface. Moreover, after the addition of patient plasma to healthy donor cells prior to CD4/CD8 staining, a weak CD8 expression on normal CD4+ cells was noticed. Therefore we can assume that the agent(s) causing this phenomenon is/are present in the plasma of some patients. Altogether, these observations suggest that this phenomenon is nonspecific and probably results from cross-linking of anti-CD8 mAbs with anti-CD4 mAbs caused by factor(s) present in plasma of some patient. However, identification of that/these factor(s) requires further research.

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