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Immunology. 2001 Feb;102(2):209-17.

Most parasite-specific CD8+ cells in Trypanosoma cruzi-infected chronic mice are down-regulated for T-cell receptor-alphabeta and CD8 molecules.

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Departamento de Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


The present study shows that CD8+ T lymphocytes expressing low levels of T-cell receptor (TCR)alphabeta, CD8 and CD3 accumulate in the spleen, blood, peritoneum and liver, but not in the lymph nodes of mice chronically infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Analysis of spleen lymphocytes reveals that most CD8LOW TCRLOW T cells have an experienced phenotype (CD44HIGH CD62LLOW and CD45RA,B,CLOW). These cells have small size, lack activation markers such as CD69, CD25 and CD11b (Mac-1), and do not spontaneously secrete cytokines, suggesting they are at the resting state. When stimulated in vitro with T. cruzi-infected macrophages, TCRLOW CD8LOW T cells behave as parasite-specific memory cells, readily responding with interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production. Indeed, among parasite-activated CD8+ lymphocytes, IFN-gamma production was mostly due to TCRLOW CD8LOW cells. Upon in vitro stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 monoclonal antibodies, down-regulated cells produce IFN-gamma and tumour necrosis factor-alpha, but not interleukin IL-10 or IL-4. Our results indicate that despite parasite persistence, most T. cruzi-specific experienced CD8+ cells are resting. Nevertheless, when encountering infected macrophages these cells differentiate to Tc1 effectors.

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