Kuzmenok, O., Potapnev, M., Potapova, S., Smolnikova, V., Rzheutsky, V., Yarilin, A. A., Savino, W. and Belyakov, I. M. Late Effects of the Chernobyl Radiation Accident on T Cell-Mediated Immunity in Cleanup Workers. Radiat. Res. 159, 109–116 (2003).
The main goal of this investigation was to evaluate the abnormal T-cell immunity in cleanup workers who took part in the cleanup after the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (MNCs) of apparently healthy cleanup workers (n = 134) were used to analyze the phenotype and proliferative response to mitogens in vitro. Evaluation of the MNC phenotype of cleanup workers did not reveal a significant disturbance in the T-cell subpopulation content except for an increase in CD3 CD16 56 (NKT) cells. Immunophenotyping of phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-activated MNCs demonstrated suppression of CD4 T-cell propagation and augmentation of CD8 T-cell propagation in vitro compared to control individuals. DNA synthesis in the MNCs of cleanup workers was markedly inhibited after activation for 3 days with suboptimal concentrations of PHA, pokeweed mitogen and PMA. In contrast to control individuals, the monocytes of cleanup workers were able to stimulate the proliferation of T cells from healthy individuals but inhibited the proliferation of T cells from cleanup workers. This study affords a better understanding of the response of MNCs to stimulation with suboptimal concentrations of PHA and provides an approach to a more accurate analysis of the immunological disorders found after exposure to radiation from Chernobyl-related activities.