Unaltered T cell responses to common antigens in individuals with Parkinson's disease

Gregory P. Williams, Kaylin Muskat, April Frazier, Yaqian Xu, José Mateus, Alba Grifoni, Ricardo da Silva Antunes, Daniela Weiskopf, Amy W. Amara, David G. Standaert, Jennifer G. Goldman, Irene Litvan, Roy N. Alcalay, David Sulzer, Cecilia S. Lindestam Arlehamn*, Alessandro Sette

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with a heightened inflammatory state, including activated T cells. However, it is unclear whether these PD T cell responses are antigen specific or more indicative of generalized hyperresponsiveness. Our objective was to measure and compare antigen-specific T cell responses directed towards antigens derived from commonly encountered human pathogens/vaccines in patients with PD and age-matched healthy controls (HC). Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 20 PD patients and 19 age-matched HCs were screened. Antigen specific T cell responses were measured by flow cytometry using a combination of the activation induced marker (AIM) assay and intracellular cytokine staining. Results: Here we show that both PD patients and HCs show similar T cell activation levels to several antigens derived from commonly encountered human pathogens/vaccines in the general population. Similarly, we also observed no difference between HC and PD in the levels of CD4 and CD8 T cell derived cytokines produced in response to any of the common antigens tested. These antigens encompassed both viral (coronavirus, rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, cytomegalovirus) and bacterial (pertussis, tetanus) targets. Conclusions: These results suggest the T cell dysfunction observed in PD may not extend itself to abnormal responses to commonly encountered or vaccine-target antigens. Our study supports the notion that the targets of inflammatory T cell responses in PD may be more directed towards autoantigens like α-synuclein (α-syn) rather than common foreign antigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120510
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023


  • Bacterial immunity
  • Immune system
  • Inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Parkinson's disease
  • T cells
  • Viral immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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