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J Reprod Immunol. 2010 Jan;84(1):52-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jri.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Nov 30.

GammadeltaTCR+ cells of the pregnant ovine uterus express variable T cell receptors and contain granulysin.

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  • 1Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Hanoi, Viet Nam.


Gammadelta T cells are a prominent granulated cell population in the ruminant pregnant uterus and both their number and granule size increase dramatically during pregnancy. Anchor-RT-PCR was used to assess TCRdelta gene usage by gammadelta T cells from the uterine epithelium of pregnant sheep. The TCRdelta genes obtained exhibited distinct combinatorial and junctional diversity and only two out of nine V-D-J rearrangements sequenced were identical. Furthermore, two of the Vdelta elements used are also expressed in peripheral blood, indicating that gammadeltaTCR use in sheep epithelia is neither restricted nor site-specific, similar to humans but in contrast to findings in mice. Protein analysis of purified, granulated uterine gammadelta T cells revealed the presence of large amounts of the antimicrobial peptide, granulysin. The results of the present study indicate that ovine uterine gammadeltaTCR(+) intraepithelial lymphocytes have the potential to recognise diverse antigens and may have a role in protecting the uterus from infection during pregnancy and parturition. A similar protective role for gammadelta T cells may exist in the human decidua parietalis.

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