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J Immunol. 2006 Apr 1;176(7):4331-6.

Homing and function of human skin gammadelta T cells and NK cells: relevance for tumor surveillance.

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  • 1Institute of Cell Biology, University of Bern, Switzerland.


Normal (noninflamed) human skin contains a network of lymphocytes, but little is known about the homing and function of these cells. The majority of alphabeta T cells in normal skin express CCR8 and produce proinflammatory cytokines. In this study we examined other subsets of cutaneous lymphocytes, focusing on those with potential function in purging healthy tissue of transformed and stressed cells. Human dermal cell suspensions contained significant populations of Vdelta1(+) gammadelta T cells and CD56(+)CD16(-) NK cells, but lacked the subsets of Vdelta2(+) gammadelta T cells and CD56(+)CD16(+) NK cells, which predominate in peripheral blood. The skin-homing receptors CCR8 and CLA were expressed by a large fraction of both cell types, whereas chemokine receptors associated with lymphocyte migration to inflamed skin were absent. Neither cell type expressed CCR7, although gammadelta T cells up-regulated this lymph node-homing receptor upon TCR triggering. Stimulation of cutaneous Vdelta1(+) gammadelta T cell lines induced secretion of large amounts of TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and the CCR8 ligand CCL1. In contrast to cutaneous alphabeta T cells, both cell types had the capacity to produce intracellular perforin and displayed strong cytotoxic activity against melanoma cells. We therefore propose that gammadelta T cells and NK cells are regular constituents of normal human skin with potential function in the clearance of tumor and otherwise stressed tissue cells.

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