Science and Public Health

A Call to Include Severe Combined Immunodeficiency in Newborn Screening Program

Raz Somech and Amos Etzioni


Quantification of the T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs) has recently emerged as a useful non-invasive clinical and research tool to investigate thymic activity. It allows the identification of T cell production by the thymus. Quantification of TREC copies has recently been implemented as the preferred test to screen neonates with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) or significant lymphopenia. Neonatal genetic screening for SCID is highly important in countries with high rates of consanguinous marriages, such as Israel, and can be used for early diagnosis, enabling prompt therapeutic intervention that will save lives and improve the outcome of these patients. TREC measurement is also applicable in clinical settings where T cell immunity is involved, including any T cell immunodeficiencies, HIV infection, the aging process, autoimmune diseases, and immune reconstitution after bone marrow transplantation. TAKE-HOME MESSAGES • Severe combined immunodeficiency, a life-threatening condition, can be detected by neonatal screening. • The earlier the detection and the quicker the implementation of appropriate treatment, the greater the likelihood for improved outcome, even cure, for the affected children. • TRECs and KRECs quantification are useful screening tests for severe T and B cell immunodeficiency and can be used also to evaluate every medical condition involving T and B cell immunity.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2014;5(1):e0001