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J Immunol. 1997 Jun 15;158(12):5805-14.

Intermediate TCR cells in mouse lung: their effector function to induce pneumonitis in mice with autoimmune-like graft-versus-host disease.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Niigata University School of Medicine, Japan.


The lung comprises lymphocytes even under noninflammatory conditions. We investigated the presence of NK cells, extrathymic T cells, and thymus-derived T cells in this organ. As shown previously in mouse liver, two-color staining for CD3 and IL-2R beta-chain (IL-2Rbeta) identifies CD3- IL-2Rbeta+ NK cells, CD3int IL-2Rbeta+ cells (int indicates intermediate; of extrathymic origin), and CD3high IL-2Rbeta- cells (high indicates high; of thymic origin). These populations were present in the lungs of normal mice in a unique manner (i.e., NK cells > CD3high cells > CD3int cells). The proportion of CD3int cells increased in the lung with age. In athymic mice, only CD3int cells were detected in the lung. In contrast to CD3int cells in the liver, the majority of these cells in the lung did not express NK1.1 Ags. Other properties of CD3int cells in the lung were the same as those in the liver, e.g., double-negative CD4- 8- cells and gammadelta T cells. CD3int cells in the lung contained forbidden clones similar to those in other organs. When (B6 x bm12) F1 mice (Ly5.2) were injected with CD3high cells of B6-Ly5.1 origin, F1 mice fell victim to chronic graft-vs-host disease and pneumonitis, showing the expansion of CD3int cells. Almost all of them were of recipient origin (Ly5.2+). More importantly, such CD3int cells induced autoimmune-like pneumonitis when injected into irradiated F1 mice. CD3int cells isolated from the lung in mice with graft-vs-host disease exerted autologous cytotoxicity against thymocytes in vitro. These results suggest that extrathymic T cells exist in the lung and that their expansion may be responsible for inflammatory lung diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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