BACKGROUND: Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare genetic disorder caused by sporadic heterozygous mutations in ACVR1 gene which progressively leads to severe heterotopic ossification. FOP is characterized by episodic flare-ups triggered by different factors such as viral infections, tissue injuries, vaccinations, or occurring without a recognizable cause. The sporadic course of the disease, the documented presence of an important inflammatory reaction in early lesions and the partial response to corticosteroids support the idea that the immune system, and in particular the innate component, may play a role in FOP pathogenesis. However, an extensive expression profile of the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of FOP patients has never been done.
METHODS: In this study, we carried out a wide PBMC immunophenotyping on a cohort of FOP patients and matching controls by multiparametric analysis of the expression of a panel of 37 markers associated with migration, adhesion, inhibition, activation, and cell death of circulating immune cells.
RESULTS: We observed a statistically significant increase of the expression of DNAM1 receptor in patients' monocytes as compared to controls, and little but significant differences in the expression profile of CXCR1 (CD181), CD62L, CXCR4 (CD184), and HLA-DR molecules.
CONCLUSIONS: DNAM1 had been previously shown to play a pivotal role in monocyte migration through the endothelial barrier and the increased expression detected in patients' monocytes might suggest a role of this surface receptor during the early phases of FOP flare-ups in which the activation of the immune response is believed to represent a crucial event. © 2017 International Clinical Cytometry Society.