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J Exp Med. 1998 Sep 21;188(6):1147-57.

Liver damage preferentially results from CD8(+) T cells triggered by high affinity peptide antigens.

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  • 1Immunobiology Program, Department of Medicine, The University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington 05405, USA.


Little is understood of the anatomical fate of activated T lymphocytes and the consequences they have on the tissues into which they migrate. Previous work has suggested that damaged lymphocytes migrate to the liver. This study compares class I versus class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted ovalbumin-specific T cell antigen receptor (TCR) transgenic mice to demonstrate that after in vivo activation with antigen the emergence of CD4(-)CD8(-)B220(+) T cells occurs more frequently from a CD8(+) precursor than from CD4(+) T cells. Furthermore, this change in phenotype is conferred only by the high affinity native peptide antigen and not by lower affinity peptide variants. After activation of CD8(+) cells with only the high affinity peptide, there is also a dramatically increased number of liver lymphocytes with accompanying extensive hepatocyte damage and elevation of serum aspartate transaminase. This was not observed in mice bearing a class II MHC-restricted TCR. The findings show that CD4(-)CD8(-)B220(+) T cells preferentially derive from a CD8(+) precursor after a high intensity TCR signal. After activation, T cells can migrate to the liver and induce hepatocyte damage, and thereby serve as a model of autoimmune hepatitis.

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