Characteristics of peripheral immune cell subsets in patients with carotid atherosclerosis undergoing carotid endarterectomy
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Submission date: 2016-07-25
Acceptance date: 2018-10-04
Publication date: 2018-11-14
Arch Med Sci Atheroscler Dis 2018;3(1):129–136
The role of circulating immune cells in the pathophysiology of cerebrovascular accidents is currently under debate. The aim of this study was to characterize peripheral immune cell subsets in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy (CEA).

Material and methods:
We conducted a prospective observational study in a group of 124 patients with significant carotid stenosis undergoing carotid endarterectomy, both symptomatic and asymptomatic. We compared the percentages of circulating immune cells: B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, T helper, cytotoxic T, CD4+/CD8+ ratio, T regulatory, monocytes and NK cells before CEA and 6 h after the procedure.

Total lymphocyte count and cytotoxic T lymphocyte count decreased 6 h after CEA in both subgroups. The NK cell level decrease was statistically significant only in the symptomatic subgroup (19.41 ±9.30 before CEA and 16.52 ±9.37 after CEA; p = 0.0044), but not in the asymptomatic subgroup (17.88 ±9.14 before CEA and 15.91 ±9.51 after CEA; p = 0.0886). The T lymphocyte level showed a statistically significant increase only in symptomatic patients (69.74 ±10.16 before CEA vs. 71.45 ±9.77 after CEA; p = 0.0462), and not in the asymptomatic subgroup (70.08 ±11.19 prior to CEA and 70.21 ±12.35; p = 0.9048). B lymphocyte, helper T lymphocyte and regulatory T (Treg) lymphocyte (CD4+/CD25+) levels showed a significant increase after CEA.

This is the first study to compare circulating immune cells in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. Only the symptomatic subgroup experienced a significant decrease in the NK cell level and an increase in the T lymphocyte count after CEA. This study enriches our understanding of immune cell kinetics during carotid endarterectomy.