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Vet Res. 2009 Jan-Feb;40(1):6. doi: 10.1051/vetres:2008044. Epub 2008 Oct 18.

Subpopulations of bovine WC1(+) gammadelta T cells rather than CD4(+)CD25(high) Foxp3(+) T cells act as immune regulatory cells ex vivo.

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Division of Immunology, Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Regulatory T cells (Treg) are regarded essential components for maintenance of immune homeostasis. Especially CD4(+)CD25(high) T cells are considered to be important regulators of immune reactivity. In humans and rodents these natural Treg are characterized by their anergic nature, defined as a non-proliferative state, suppressive function and expression of Foxp3. In this study the potential functional role of flowcytometry-sorted bovine white blood cell populations, including CD4(+)CD25(high) T cells and gammadelta T cell subpopulations, as distinct ex vivo regulatory cells was assessed in co-culture suppression assays. Our findings revealed that despite the existence of a distinct bovine CD4(+)CD25(high) T cell population, which showed Foxp3 transcription/expression, natural regulatory activity did not reside in this cell population. In bovine co-culture suppression assays these cells were neither anergic nor suppressive. Subsequently, the following cell populations were tested functionally for regulatory activity: CD4(+)CD25(low) T cells, WC1(+), WC1.1(+) and WC1.2(+) gammadelta T cells, NK cells, CD8(+) T cells and CD14(+) monocytes. Only the WC1.1(+) and WC1.2(+) gammadelta T cells and CD14(+) monocytes proved to act as regulatory cells in cattle, which was supported by the fact that these regulatory cells showed IL-10 transcription/expression. In conclusion, our data provide first evidence that cattle CD4(+)CD25(high)Foxp3(+) and CD4(+)CD25(low) T cells do not function as Treg ex vivo. The bovine Treg function appears to reside in the gammadelta T cell population, more precisely in the WC1.1(+) and the WC1.2(+) subpopulation, major populations present in blood of cattle in contrast to non-ruminant species.

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