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Hepatology. 2001 Apr;33(4):887-93.

A critical role of T-cell receptor gamma/delta cells in antibacterial protection in mice early in life.

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Department of Immunology, Max-Planck-Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany.


Although it is generally assumed that T-cell receptor (TCR) gamma/delta cells participate in protection against intracellular microbial pathogens, their impact remains controversial. In our study, young (14-day-old) mice lacking TCRgamma/delta cells were far more susceptible to Listeria monocytogenes than wild-type (WT) mice of the same age. The number of interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) producers responsible for antilisterial resistance was significantly higher among natural killer (NK)1(+) TCRgamma/delta cells than among NK1(-) TCRgamma/delta cells. Endogenous IFN-gamma neutralization increased susceptibility of young WT mice to L. monocytogenes infection. Liver was a major residence of peripheral NK1(+) TCRgamma/delta cells, whereas NK1(-) TCR gamma/delta cells were broadly distributed in various lymphoid organs. Numbers of both NK1(+) and NK1(-) TCRgamma/delta cells increased in the liver of WT mice prior to TCRalpha/beta cells and represented a substantial population in early life (14 days after birth). Virtually all NK1(+) TCRgamma/delta cells expressed activation markers, whereas substantial numbers of NK1(-) TCRgamma/delta cells showed a naive phenotype. We conclude that TCRgamma/delta cells play a critical role in protection against L. monocytogenes in the early life of mice, probably because their TCRalpha/beta cell compartment is not fully competent. For this antibacterial function, we assign NK1(+) TCRgamma/delta cells a more important role than their NK1(-) cognates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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