Purpose: To investigate possible roles of T helper (Th) cells, regulatory T cells (Tregs), and the recently mapped Th-like Tregs in patients with polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV). Methods: In this prospective case-control study, we obtained fresh venous blood from patients with PCV (n = 24), age-matched healthy controls (n = 32), and patients with neovascular AMD (n = 45). All participants underwent a comprehensive ocular examination including fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography for where retinal disease was suspected. Using flow cytometry, we identified Th subsets, Tregs, and Th-like Tregs. Plasma samples were stored at -80°C to investigate plasma cytokines of interest. Results: Compared to healthy controls, patients with PCV had lower percentages of Tregs (8.7% ± 2.8% vs. 7.3% ± 1.7%, P = 0.027), which were significantly more Th2-like polarized (42.6% ± 13.3% vs. 50.5% ± 13.0%, P = 0.029). These changes differed from that observed in neovascular AMD, which compared to healthy controls had fewer Th1/Th17 cells (3.6% ± 2.7% vs. 2.4% ± 2.5%, P = 0.049), comparable Treg levels, and no distinct polarization of Th-like Tregs. Because of these findings, we measured plasma IL-4 and IL-33 levels. Plasma IL-33 in patients with PCV (median 0.30 pg/mL) was twice as high compared to healthy controls (median 0.16 pg/mL; P = 0.037). Conclusions: PCV associate with diminished Tregs that are polarized more into a Th2-like phenotype. This is correlated to IL-33 levels, which we also find increased in patients with PCV. Our findings suggest a possible role for Th2-like Tregs and IL-33 in PCV.
Subject classification (UKÄ)