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J Immunol. 2003 Mar 1;170(5):2702-10.

High expression of Fas ligand by synovial fluid-derived gamma delta T cells in Lyme arthritis.

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Department of Medicine (Immunobiology), The University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


Gamma delta T cells accumulate at epithelial barriers and at sites of inflammation in various infectious and autoimmune diseases, yet little is understood about the function of tissue-infiltrating gamma delta T cells. We observe that gamma delta T cells of the V delta 1 subset accumulate in synovial fluid of human Lyme arthritis and are intensely cytolytic toward a wide array of target cells. Particularly striking is that the cytolytic activity is highly prolonged, lasting for at least 3 wk after stimulation of the gamma delta T cells with Borrelia burgdorferi. Cytolysis is largely Fas dependent and results from very high and prolonged expression of surface Fas ligand, which is transcriptionally regulated. This also manifests in a substantial level of self-induced apoptosis of the gamma delta T cells. In this capacity, certain gamma delta T cell subsets may serve as cytolytic sentinels at sites of inflammation, and perhaps at epithelial barriers.

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