Clostridium difficile recurrence is characterized by pro-inflammatory peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) phenotype

Mary B. Yacyshyn*, Tara N. Reddy, Lauren R. Plageman, Jiang Wu, Amy R. Hollar, Bruce R. Yacyshyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Clostridium difficileinfection (CDI) is a prevalent nosocomial and increasingly communityacquired problem. Little is known about the productive cellular response in patients. We used flow cytometry to define inflammatory (Th1 and Th17) and regulatory[Foxp3+ T-regulatory (Treg)]cells present in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from CDI patients. We consented 67 inpatients that tested either positive or negative for CDI and 16 healthy controls and compared their PBMC phenotypes. PBMC were collected, isolated, and stained for CD3, CD8 and either IL17 (Th17), IFN-γ(Th1) or Foxp3 (Treg) and analysed using flow cytometry. Twenty thousand events were collected in the lymphocyte gate (gate 1) and T-cell phenotypes were defined. CDI patients who clear the primary initial infection have greater numbers of nonCD3 PBMC. CDI patients who develop recurrence of CDI have a greater percentage of CD3+CD8+, CD3+CD4+ Foxp3 and fewer low granular CD3-Foxp3+ PBMC. These patients have greater numbers of IFN-γ-producing lymphocytes, as well as PBMC phenotypes represented by increased IFN-γ- and IL17-co-expressing CD4+CD3+. This initial proinflammatory phenotype decreases with repeated recurrence, demonstrating importance of timing of sample collection and history of symptoms. Patients with a history of recurrence had increased Foxp3+CD3+CD4+ and IL17+CD3+CD4+ populations. Hence, CDI recurrence is hallmarked by greater numbers of circulating CD3+ lymphocytes skewed towards a Th1/Th17 inflammatory population as well as possible immune plasticity (Th17/Treg).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1260-1273
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of medical microbiology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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