T cell subpopulations, defined by monoclonal antibodies (OKT3, OKT4 and OKT8), were assessed on 13 patients with myelodysplasia (MDS). The percentage and numbers of OKT3- and OKT4-positive lymphocytes were significantly lower (p < 0.025) than in normal controls, whereas those of OKT8 were not. In the group of patients with refractory anemia with excess of blasts (RAEB) and in those with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, the percentage and absolute numbers of OKT8 lymphocytes were significantly lower (p < 0.025) than in patients with refractory anemia or with primary acquired sideroblastic anemia, while those of OKT3 and OKT4 did not differ significantly. Quantitative impairment of T cell subpopulations may be part of the myelodysplastic situation as a result of the dyslymphopoiesis, according to the hypothesis that MDS originate from pluripotent stem cells. The decrease of OKT8 in RAEB and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia could be related to the previously shown insufficient erythropoietic activity in these patients.

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