Increased caspase activity primes human Lyme arthritis synovial γδ T cells for proliferation and death

Vermont Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.
Human immunology (Impact Factor: 2.14). 12/2011; 72(12):1168-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.humimm.2011.08.019
Source: PubMed


γδ T cells function between the innate and adaptive immune responses, promoting antigen-presenting cell function and manifesting cytolytic activity. Their numbers often increase during infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus, and at sites of chronic inflammation. However, the turnover dynamics of human γδ T cells are poorly understood. Here we observed that despite more rapid proliferation in vitro by human Lyme arthritis synovial γδ T cells of the Vδ1 subset, they have reduced surviving cell numbers compared with αβ T cells because of increased cell death by the γδ T cells. Because caspases are involved in cell proliferation and death, and because signaling is more efficient through T cell receptor (TCR)-γδ than through TCR-αβ, we examined the levels of active caspases during cell cycling and following TCR restimulation. We observed higher overall caspase activity in Borrelia-reactive γδ T cells than in comparable αβ T cells. This was paralleled by greater spontaneous cell death and TCR restimulation-induced cell death of the γδ T cells, which was caspase dependent. Our current findings thus are consistent with a model in which human γδ T cells evolved to function quickly and transiently in an innate fashion.

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