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J Immunol. 2013 Nov 1;191(9):4611-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1301672. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

Human CD4+CD3- innate-like T cells provide a source of TNF and lymphotoxin-αβ and are elevated in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center, Sanford|Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037.


Innate lymphoid cells encompass a diverse array of lymphocyte subsets with unique phenotype that initiate inflammation and provide host defenses in specific microenvironments. In this study, we identify a rare human CD4(+)CD3(-) innate-like lymphoid population with high TNF expression that is enriched in blood from patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These CD4(+)CD3(-) cells belong to the T cell lineage, but the lack of AgR at the cell surface renders them nonresponsive to TCR-directed stimuli. By developing a culture system that sustains survival, we show that CD4(+)CD3(-) innate-like T cells display IL-7-dependent induction of surface lymphotoxin-αβ, demonstrating their potential to modify tissue microenvironments. Furthermore, expression of CCR6 on the CD4(+)CD3(-) population defines a CD127(high) subset that is highly responsive to IL-7. This CD4(+)CD3(-) population is enriched in the peripheral blood from rheumatoid arthritis patients, suggesting a link to their involvement in chronic inflammatory disease.

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