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Blood. 2002 Dec 1;100(12):4090-7. Epub 2002 Jul 25.

CD8alpha alpha memory effector T cells descend directly from clonally expanded CD8alpha +beta high TCRalpha beta T cells in vivo.

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Department of Pediatrics, Angiogenesis and Vascular Development, Graduate School of Medical Science and School of Medicine, Kanazawa University, Japan.


Whereas most peripheral CD8(+) alphabeta T cells highly express CD8alphabeta heterodimer in healthy individuals, there is an increase of CD8alpha(+)beta(low) or CD8alphaalpha alphabeta T cells in HIV infection or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and after bone marrow transplantation. The significance of these uncommon cell populations is not well understood. There has been some question as to whether these subsets and CD8alpha(+)beta(high) cells belong to different ontogenic lineages or whether a fraction of CD8alpha(+)beta(high) cells have down-regulated CD8beta chain. Here we assessed clonality of CD8alphaalpha and CD8alpha(+)beta(low) alphabeta T cells as well as their phenotypic and functional characteristics. Deduced from surface antigens, cytotoxic granule constituents, and cytokine production, CD8alpha(+)beta(low) cells are exclusively composed of effector memory cells. CD8alphaalpha cells comprise effector memory cells and terminally differentiated CD45RO(-)CCR7(-) memory cells. T-cell receptor (TCR) Vbeta complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) spectratyping analysis and subsequent sequencing of CDR3 cDNA clones revealed polyclonality of CD8alpha(+)beta(high) cells and oligoclonality of CD8alpha(+)beta(low) and CD8alphaalpha cells. Importantly, some expanded clones within CD8alphaalpha cells were also identified within CD8alpha(+)beta(high) and CD8alpha(+)beta(low) subpopulations. Furthermore, signal-joint TCR rearrangement excision circles concentration was reduced with the loss of CD8beta expression. These results indicated that some specific CD8alpha(+)beta(high) alphabeta T cells expand clonally, differentiate, and simultaneously down-regulate CD8beta chain possibly by an antigen-driven mechanism. Provided that antigenic stimulation directly influences the emergence of CD8alphaalpha alphabeta T cells, these cells, which have been previously regarded as of extrathymic origin, may present new insights into the mechanisms of autoimmune diseases and immunodeficiencies, and also serve as a useful biomarker to evaluate the disease activities.

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