Differential function of intestinal intraepithelial lymphocyte subsets

T. A. Barrett, T. F. Gajewski, D. Danielpour, E. B. Chang, K. W. Beagley, J. A. Bluestone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


It has been proposed that intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (I-IEL) perform immune surveillance of the epithelial layer (1) and regulate mucosal humoral responses to exogenous Ag (2). To better understand the functional potential of this unique population, purified murine I-IEL were analyzed phenotypically and functionally. Initial studies determined that I-IEL could be distinguished based on several phenotypic characteristics including: TCR (TCR-αβ vs TCR-γδ); Thy-1, CD45R/B220, CD5, and CD8 (CD8αα vs CD8αβ) expression. Using anti-TCR mAb, individual I-IEL subsets were activated and examined functionally. Both TCR-αβ and TCR-78 I-IEL were found to synthesize an array of lymphokines that included IL-2, IL-3, and IL-6 but not IL-4 or IL-5. Additionally, a number of lymphokines were detected that directly influence epithelial function (IFN-γ, TNF-α, and TGF-β1). However, the majority of the I-IEL function was localized within the Thy-1+, CD45R/B220- I-IEL subset. In addition those TCR-αβ I-IEL expressing the CD8αβ heterodimer were more easily activated. Thus, a subset of I-IEL have the capacity to respond to TCR-mediated stimuli. The functional activities of these cells may influence both local immune cell populations as well as epithelial differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1124-1130
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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