It is known that asbestos exposure can cause malignant mesothelioma (MM) and that CD8+ T cells play a critical role in antitumor immunity. We examined the properties of peripheral blood CD8+ lymphocytes from asbestos-exposed patients with pleural plaque (PL) and MM. The percentage of CD3+CD8+ cells in PBMCs did not differ among the three groups, although the total numbers of PBMCs of the PL and MM groups were lower than those of the healthy volunteers (HV). The percentage of IFN-γ + and CD107a+ cells in PMA/ionomycin-stimulated CD8 + lymphocytes did not differ among the three groups. Percentages of perforin+ cells and CD45RA- cells in fresh CD8+ lymphocytes of PL and MM groups were higher than those of HV. Percentages of granzyme B+ and perforin+ cells in PMA/ionomycin- stimulated CD8+ lymphocytes were higher in PL group compared with HV. The MM group showed a decrease of perforin level in CD8+ lymphocytes after stimulation compared with patients with PL. These results indicate that MM patients have characteristics of impairment in stimulation-induced cytotoxicity of peripheral blood CD8+ lymphocytes and that PL and MM patients have a common character of functional alteration in those lymphocytes, namely, an increase in memory cells, possibly related to exposure to asbestos.
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