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Am J Pathol. 2002 Oct;161(4):1337-47.

Direct evidence for interferon-gamma production by effector-memory-type intraepidermal T cells residing at an effector site of immunopathology in fixed drug eruption.

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Department of Dermatology, Kyorin University School of Medicine, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan.


Effector-memory T cells are strategically placed to epithelial tissues to provide frontline immune protection against pathogens. Their detrimental effects, however, have been rarely examined because of difficulty in sampling these T cells in pathological settings. Our previous studies suggested persistence of a similar subset of intraepidermal CD8(+) T cells at high frequencies in the lesions of fixed drug eruption, a localized variant of drug-induced dermatoses. In situ activation of this subset resulting in localized epidermal injury can be traced in the lesions after antigen challenge by paired immunohistochemical staining, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in situ, and flow cytometry of dispersed cells. Here we show that effector-memory T cells were greatly enriched in these intraepidermal CD8(+) T cells, but not dermal and circulating counterparts, and that they constitutively express an early activation marker CD69 even before challenge. Surprisingly, a large proportion of these T cells expressed immediate effector function as evidenced by the rapid production of high levels of interferon-gamma in situ with much faster kinetics than their counterparts at the mRNA and protein levels after challenge. This was followed by localized epidermal injury. The intracellular cytokine assay ex vivo shows that the great majority of these dispersed T cells produce interferon-gamma. This study provides the first in situ description of the detrimental effects specifically mediated by effector-memory T cells residing at the effector site of immunopathology.

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