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J Leukoc Biol. 2011 May;89(5):743-52. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0910501. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

IL-23R and TCR signaling drives the generation of neonatal Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells expressing high levels of cytotoxic mediators and producing IFN-gamma and IL-17.

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  • 1Institute for Medical Immunology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Gosselies, Belgium.


The immune system in early life is regarded as immature. However, the IL-12 family member IL-23 is highly produced upon TLR stimulation by neonatal DCs. Human adult Vγ9Vδ2 T cells can be stimulated specifically via their TCR by phosphoantigens (as the pathogen-derived HMB-PP) or agents and infections that lead to their endogenous accumulation (as the aminobisphosphonate zoledronate). As increasing evidence indicates that γδ T cells are especially important in early life, we investigated the effect of IL-23 on neonatal Vγ9Vδ2 T cells stimulated via their TCR. Zoledronate induced clear proliferation and IFN-γ production in neonatal Vγ9Vδ2 T cells. In contrast, HMB-PP did not elicit a distinct response unless at high concentrations. Addition of IL-23 to zoledronate enhanced the expression of IFN-γ and generated a distinct, IFN-γ-negative, neonatal Vγ9Vδ2 T cell population producing IL-17. Furthermore, IL-23 significantly enhanced the expression of a range of cytotoxic mediators (perforin, granzymes, granulysin). Although the costimulatory effect of IL-23 on IFN-γ and cytotoxic mediators was also observed within adult Vγ9Vδ2 T cells, the induction of an IL-17+IFN-γ- subset was unique to neonatal Vγ9Vδ2 T cells. In conclusion, neonatal DC-derived IL-23 combined with specific TCR signaling drives the generation of neonatal Vγ9Vδ2 T cells equipped with a range of cytotoxic mediators and distinct subpopulations producing IFN-γ and IL-17.

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