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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2005 Oct 18;108(1-2):177-84.

Lymphocyte development in fetal piglets: facts and surprises.

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Department of Immunology and Gnotobiology, Institute of Microbiology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Doly 183, 549 22 Nový Hrádek, Czech Republic.


The developing porcine fetus offers an excellent opportunity for the study of lymphocyte development. Studies on B cell, alphabeta T cells and gammadelta T cells in the last decade have expanded our knowledge of lymphocyte development in pigs. These studies have revealed several interesting differences between swine, mice and humans. For example, porcine peripheral lymphocytes include CD4+CD8+ alphabeta T cells and an abundance of gammadelta T cells that may even prevail over the alphabeta population. There are numerous CD2- gammadelta T cells in the blood and a large number of CD8alphaalpha-bearing cells that include NK cells, conventional gammadelta and alphabeta T cells. All porcine B lymphocytes are CD25(lo) and sIgM+ B cells may differ in the expression of CD2 antigen. Unlike mice, porcine B cells appear approximately 2 weeks before T cells and progenitors undergo VDJH rearrangement at 20th day of gestation (DG20) in the yolk sac and DG30 in the fetal liver before consummating high level lymphogenesis in the bone marrow after DG45. Early B cells show an unexpectedly high proportion of in-frame rearrangements, undergo switch recombination in thymus on DG60 and use N-region insertion from the time of the earliest VDJ rearrangement. The genomic repertoire of VH, DH and JH genes is small compared to mice and humans and swine appear to depend on junctional diversity for the majority of their repertoire. The limited VH repertoire of swine contrasts sharply with the porcine TCRbeta repertoire, which is extensive, extraordinarily conserved and nearly identical to that in humans. Therefore, swine present an example of two highly related receptor systems that have diverged in the same species.

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