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J Invest Dermatol. 1990 Jun;94(6):764-8.

T-cell receptor-gamma/delta bearing lymphocytes in normal and inflammatory human skin.

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Laboratoire de Dermatologie, INSERM U. 312, Hopital Henri-Mondor, Créteil, France.


Murine dendritic epidermal T cells (DETC) were recently reported to express T-cell receptor (TCR)-gamma/delta chains. In a search for the human equivalent of these cells, we tested normal and lesional skin with MoAb which react with the TCR-gamma/delta heterodimer. We performed indirect immunofluorescence (IF) on epidermal sheets, and alkaline-phosphatase-anti-alkaline-phosphatase complex (APAAP) on epidermal cell smears. Frozen skin sections from normal skin and various cutaneous lymphocyte infiltrates were also studied. A few CD3+ T lymphocytes were consistently found in normal epidermis. Most of these cells appeared to be TCR-alpha/beta +, and some CD4+ or CD8+. On epidermal sheets and cell smears, only a very small TCR-gamma/delta + cell population was visualized (less than 0.1% of the total). On normal skin sections, we observed 0 to 3 gamma/delta + cells per section. When present, they were often located in the epidermal basal layer, and were round or dendritic. Double immunolabeling revealed that gamma/delta + cells differed from CD1+ Langerhans cells, and that they had a similar phenotypic pattern as gamma/delta + peripheral lymphocytes (PBL): CD2+, CD3+, CD4-, and CD8-. Immunostaining from various inflammatory skin lesions showed that the dermal infiltrates included CD3+ T lymphocytes but virtually no gamma/delta + cells. Only a few gamma/delta + cells were found in some end-evolutive infiltrates. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that normal human epidermis occasionally harbors TCR-gamma/delta complex bearing lymphocytes, which constitute a small fraction of the CD3+ cutaneous T lymphocytes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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