PROBLEM: Premature ovarian failure (POF) may be considered as an autoimmune
endocrine disease. Autoantibodies and lymphocyte subset changes are associ
ated with premature ovarian failure. Immune cell parameters were studied in
relation with anticardiolipin antibodies (ACAB) classes M and G in the ini
tial period of POF.
METHODS: Two-color flow cytometry was used to determine lymphocyte subsets
and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to detect ACAB and h
ormones in the peripheral blood of 68 POF patients, 32 women with normal me
nopause (NM) and 13 healthy women as a normal control (NC).
RESULTS: Patients in the initial period of POF had decreased levels of CD3
+ CD19 +, CD3 + 8 +, and CD8 + 57 + lymphocytes and a high percentage of CD
5 positive in CD19 + cell population compared to the control; frequencies o
f I.-M ACAB in POF patients were significantly higher than both IgG ACAB an
d I-M ACA-B in NC; correlation between lymphocyte subsets and hormone level
s was absent. Women with early NM showed a low number of CD3 +, CD3 + 4 +,
and CD3 + 8 + lymphocytes, a high number of CD3 + DR, and elevation of the
percentage of CD5 positive in CD19 + lymphocytes compared with the control.
The frequencies of both IgM and IgG ACAB were high; the levels of lymphocy
te subsets had correlations with progesterone and estradiol concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS: An increase of autoantibody producing B cells (CD5 + 19 +) and
a low number of effector suppressor/cytotoxic lymphocytes (CD8 + 57 +) wit
h active production of anticardiolipin autoantibodies class M were found. T
his suggested a primary autoimmune process in the initial period of POF. Au
toimmune defeat of the ovary could be the primary cause of POF, whereas in
NM autoimmunity is a result of hormone dysfunction.