Immune system alterations in lung cancer patients

G. Mazzoccoli, M. Grilli, S. Carughi, F. Puzzolante, A. De Cata, M. La Viola, A. Giuliani, N. Urbano, R. Tarquini, F. Perfetto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immune system plays an important role in the defense against neoplastic disease and immune responses show temporal changes related to circadian variations of antibodies, total lymphocytes in the peripheral blood and cell mediated immune responses. In this study we evaluate. lymphocyte subpopulations and interleukin-2 (IL-2) serum levels in peripheral blood samples collected at four-hour intervals for 24-hours starting at 06.00h from ten healthy subjects aged 65-79 years (mean age ± S.E. 67.28 ± 3.11) and from ten subjects suffering from untreated non small cell lung cancer aged 65-78 years (mean age ± S.E. 68.57 ± 1.81). Areas under the curve, mean diurnal levels (mean of 06.00-10.00-14.00 h) and mean nocturnal levels (mean of 18.00-22.00-02.00 h) were calculated, and the presence of circadian rhythmicity was evaluate. When we compared AUC values there was a decrease in CD8 bright (T suppressor subset) and an increase in CD16 (natural killer cells) and of IL-2 serum levels in cancer patients. When we compared mean diurnal levels, CD8 (T suppressor/cytotoxic subset) and CD8 bright levels were lower, and CD16 levels were higher in cancer patients. When we compared mean nocturnal levels, CD16 and CD25 (T and B activated lymphocytes with expression of the a chain of IL-2 receptor) levels were higher, while CD8, CD8 bright, CD20 (total B-cells), TcRd1 (epitope of the constant domain of d chain of T-cell receptor 1) and dTcS1 (epitope of the variable domain of d chain of T-cell receptor 1) levels were lower in cancer patients. A clear circadian rhythm was validated for the time-qualified changes in CD4, CD20, HLA-DR with acrophase at night, and CD8, CD8 bright, CD8 dim, CD16, TcRd1 and dTcS1 with acrophase in the morning in the control group. A clear circadian rhythm was validated for the time-qualified changes in CD4 with acrophase at night, in the group of cancer patients. Results obtained in our study show that lung cancer is associated with anomalies of proportion and circadian variations of lymphocyte subsets that must be considered when adoptive immunotherapy has to be planned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Immune response
  • Interleukin 2
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphocyte subpopulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Immune system alterations in lung cancer patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this