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Immunology. 2011 Dec;134(4):448-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2011.03503.x.

γδ T cells play a protective role during infection with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis by promoting goblet cell function in the small intestine.

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Parasitic Disease Unit, Department of Infectious Disease, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan.


The intestinal epithelium is rich in γδ T cells and the gut is a site of residence for a wide variety of pathogens, including nematodes. Although CD4+ T-cell receptor (TCR) -αβ+ T helper type 2 T cells are essential for the expulsion of intestinal nematodes, little information is available on the function of γδ T cells in this type of infection. Here, we demonstrate two major functions of γδ T cells as a potently protective T-cell population against Nippostrongylus brasiliensis infection using γδ T-cell-deficient (TCR-δ(-/-) ) mice. First, γδ T cells are required to initiate rapid expulsion of adult worms from the intestine and to limit egg production. Second, γδ T cells prevent the pathological intestinal damage associated with nematode infection, evident by increased clinical disease and more severe microscopic lesions in infected TCR-δ(-/-) mice. γδ T-cell deficiency led to delayed goblet cell hyperplasia in association with reduced expression of phosphorylated STAT6, MUC2, Trefoil factor-3 (TFF3) and T helper type 2 cytokines including interleukin-13 (IL-13). TCR-δ(-/-) mice also produced more interferon-γ than wild-type mice. Within the intraepithelial lymphocyte compartment, γδ T cells produced IL-13. Adoptive transfer of γδ T cells or administration of recombinant IL-13 to TCR-δ(-/-) mice successfully reduced the egg production by N. brasiliensis. Collectively, these data provide strong evidence that γδ T cells play an important role in controlling infection with intestinal nematodes and limiting infection-induced pathology.

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