Over an average span of one year, we performed a prospective clinical and immunologic evaluation of 30 patients with hemophilia. No patient developed life-threatening opportunistic infection or malignancy; however, the immunologic abnormalities and lymphadenopathy initially present in nine patients (lymphadenopathy group) persisted. In addition, five patients, representing 24% of the initial group without lymphadenopathy, developed generalized lymphadenopathy (converter group). One episode of idiopathic thrombocytopenia (ITP) and one episode of staphylococcal sepsis occurred in this “converter” group; one episode of ITP also occurred in the lymphadenopathy group. Sixteen patients remained asymptomatic. At the time of the follow-up evaluation, those differences in mononuclear cell (MNC) percentages and numbers noted initially among the three hemophiliac groups were no longer present. Natural killer cell function alone or in the presence of biologic response modifiers was not different among hemophiliac and control groups. Before developing lymphadenopathy, the converter group of patients had significantly better lymphocyte mitogenic function than did the other two groups of patients with hemophilia. However, lymphocyte mitogenic responses of all groups of patients with hemophilia significantly deteriorated over the course of the study. The abnormal mitogenic responses noted in these patients was explained in part by higher levels of spontaneous suppressor cell activity in mononuclear cell preparations from patients with hemophilia. We conclude that long-term immunologic studies of this patient population requires both quantitative and qualitative evaluations. Our data show that patients with hemophilia have progressive dysfunction of cell- mediated immunity.

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