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Immunology. 1996 Dec;89(4):494-501.

Microbial colonization influences composition and T-cell receptor V beta repertoire of intraepithelial lymphocytes in rat intestine.

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Laboratory for Immunohistochemistry and Immunopathology (LIIPAT), University of Oslo, Norway.


Studies in mice have shown that the composition of intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) may be markedly altered by gut microbial colonization. Such modulation was studied in a rat model by the use of germ-free and conventionalized animals from which IEL from the small intestine were isolated and analysed by flow cytometry. Conventionalization caused expansion as well as phenotypic alterations of T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha/beta + IEL in that the proportions of CD4+ and CD8 alpha beta + TCR alpha/beta + cells were increased, while the double negative (CD4- CD8-) fraction was reduced. microbial colonization also influenced the TCR V beta repertoire of CD8+ IEL in that the proportions of V beta 8.2+ and V beta 10+ cells were increased, whereas V beta 8.5+ and V beta 16+ cells were relatively decreased. Moreover, conventionalization influenced the levels of TCR cell surface expression in the same V beta subsets. Three-colour flow-cytometric analysis demonstrated that skewing of the V beta repertoire was most pronounced in the CD8 alpha alpha + subset, although the numerical increase of IEL mainly included the CD8 alpha beta + subset. In contrast to IEL, the TCR V beta repertoire in mesenteric lymph nodes was unchanged after intestinal colonization. These results confirm that TCR alpha/beta + IEL subpopulations respond dynamically to the microbial gut flora and suggest that their V beta repertoire can be shaped by luminal microbial antigens.

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