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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 2;12(6):e0179015. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179015. eCollection 2017.

The composition of T-cell subsets are altered in the burn wound early after injury.

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Department of Surgery, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, United States of America.



Burn-induced inflammation leads to impaired immune responses resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. T-cells are central in the immune response and circulating CD4 and CD8 T-cells have been used to evaluate immune status; however, the role of these T-cell subsets in the burn wound is unknown.


Male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to a major 3rd degree scald burn or sham treatment. Twenty-four hours later, full thickness skin samples from sham mice and the burn wounds were collected and single cells were isolated and analyzed for αβ TCR, γδ TCR, CD3, CD4, CD8 and CD69 expressions by flow cytometry.


The burn wound contained significantly greater numbers of T-cells than skin from sham mice, due to a profound infiltration of αβ T-cells. These infiltrating αβ T-cells were primarily suppressor T-cells with a CD8+ or CD8-CD4- phenotype. The 15-fold increase in CD8+ αβ T-cells caused a decrease in the CD4:CD8 ratio from 0.7 in sham skin to 0.3 in the burn wound. In contrast, the majority of the γδ T-cells in sham skin were CD4-CD8-, which decreased 9-fold in the burn wound. CD69 expression was suppressed on burn wound αβ T-cells, but increased on γδ T-cells in the burn wound.


The infiltrating burn wound αβ T-cells likely act to quell inflammation. In contrast wound γδ T-cells were activated with elevated CD4 and CD69 expression. Thus, these two distinct T-cell subsets likely differentially regulate the burn wound inflammatory response.

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