The EUROclass trial: Defining subgroups in common variable immunodeficiency
The heterogeneity of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) calls for a classification addressing pathogenic mechanisms as well as clinical relevance. This European multicenter trial was initiated to develop a consensus of 2 existing classification schemes based on flowcytometric B-cell phenotyping and the clinical course. The clinical evaluation of 303 patients with the established diagnosis of CVID demonstrated a significant coincidence of granulomatous disease, autoimmune cytopenia, and splenomegaly. Phenotyping of B-cell subpopulations confirmed a severe reduction of switched memory B cells in most of the patients that was associated with a higher risk for splenomegaly and granulomatous disease. An expansion of CD21lowB cells marked patients with splenomegaly. Lymphadenopathy was significantly linked with transitional B-cell expansion. Based on these findings and pathogenic consideration of B-cell differentiation, we suggest an improved classification for CVID (EUROclass), separating patients with nearly absent B cells (less than 1%), severely reduced switched memory B cells (less than 2%), and expansion of transitional (more than 9%) or CD21lowB cells (more than 10%). Whereas the first group contains all patients with severe defects of early B-cell differentiation, severely reduced switched memory B cells indicate a defective germinal center development as found in inducible constimulator (ICOS) or CD40L deficiency. The underlying defects of expanded transitional or CD21lowB cells remain to be elucidated. This trial is re-gistered at http://www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/zks/live/uklregister/Oeffentlich.html as UKF000308.