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Immunol Today. 1991 Jan;12(1):30-4.

Prominence of gamma delta T cells in the ruminant immune system.

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Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland.


The lymphoid systems of sheep and cattle contain a large number of gamma delta T cells, in striking contrast to the lymphoid systems of humans and mice. In neonatal animals particularly, these cells comprise the predominant fraction of T cells in the blood. Here Wayne Hein and Charles Mackay discuss what is currently known about the ontogeny, phenotype, tissue distribution and function of gamma delta T cells in ruminants. There are a number of interesting molecular features that characterize ruminant gamma delta T cells, but these do not entirely explain the high frequency of use of the gamma delta T-cell receptor in these animals. Studies on sheep, cattle or other animals that preferentially use gamma delta T cells should provide insights into the biological significance of the existence of two distinct forms of the T-cell receptor.

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