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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Jan 1;88(1):43-7.

Extrathymic origin of intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes bearing T-cell antigen receptor gamma delta.

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  • 1Unite d'immunobiologie, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


The kinetics of postnatal intestinal colonization by T cells carrying gamma delta and alpha beta T-cell antigen receptors were studied in nude and normal mice by flow cytometry and immunohistology. Furthermore, gamma delta and alpha beta T-cell development was analyzed in lethally irradiated mice that were reconstituted by fetal liver precursors with or without a thymus. Our results establish that a major subpopulation of gamma delta intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes is produced from uncommitted precursors at extrathymic sites. This work further shows that a small pool of T cells carrying alpha beta T-cell receptors can also differentiate extrathymically from CD3- fetal liver precursors but with rates of production and peripheral expansion much reduced as compared with those observed in thymus-bearing animals.

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