Perforin expression in cytotoxic lymphocytes from patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and their family members

Kazuhiro Kogawa, Susan M. Lee, Joyce Villanueva, Daniel Marmer, Janos Sumegi, Alexandra H. Filipovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

190 Scopus citations


Mutations in the perforin gene have been described in some patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), but the role of perforin defects in the pathogenesis of HLH remains unclear. Four-color flow cytometric analysis was used to establish normal patterns of perforin expression for control subjects of all ages, and patterns of perforin staining in cytotoxic lymphocytes (natural killer [NK] cells, CD8+ T cells, CD56+ T cells) from patients with HLH and their family members were studied. Eleven unrelated HLH patients and 19 family members were analyzed prospectively. Four of the 7 patients with primary HLH showed lack of intracellular perforin in all cytotoxic cell types. All 4 patients showed mutations in the perforin gene.Their parents, obligate carriers of perforin mutations, had abnormal perforin-staining patterns. Analysis of cytotoxic cells from the other 3 patients with primary HLH and remaining family members had normal percentages of perforin-positive cytotoxic cells. On the other hand, the 4 patients with Epstein-Barr virus associated HLH typically had depressed numbers of NK cells but markedly increased proportions of CD8+ T cells with perforin expression. Four color flow cytometry provides diagnostic information that, in conjunction with evidence of reduced NK function, may speed the identification of life-threatening HLH in some families and direct further genetic studies of the syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology

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