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Blood. 2007 May 15;109(10):4328-35. Epub 2007 Jan 25.

TCRzetadim lymphocytes define populations of circulating effector cells that migrate to inflamed tissues.

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Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Division, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom.


The T-cell receptor zeta (TCRzeta) chain is a master sensor and regulator of lymphocyte responses. Loss of TCRzeta expression has been documented in infectious, inflammatory, and malignant diseases, suggesting that it may serve to limit T-cell reactivity and effector responses at sites of tissue damage. These observations prompted us to explore the relationship between TCRzeta expression and effector function in T cells. We report here that TCRzeta(dim) lymphocytes are enriched for antigen-experienced cells refractory to TCR-induced proliferation. Compared to their TCRzeta(bright) counterparts, TCRzeta(dim) cells share characteristics of differentiated effector T cells but use accessory pathways for transducing signals for inflammatory cytokine gene expression and cell contact-dependent pathways to activate monocytes. TCRzeta(dim) T cells accumulate in inflamed tissues in vivo and have intrinsic migratory activity in vitro. Whilst blocking leukocyte trafficking with anti-TNF therapy in vivo is associated with the accumulation of TCRzeta(dim) T cells in peripheral blood, this T-cell subset retains the capacity to migrate in vitro. Taken together, the functional properties of TCRzeta(dim) T cells make them promising cellular targets for the treatment of chronic inflammatory disease.

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