Aging affects the number and function of gamma-delta (γδ) T cells in a tissue-specific manner, modifying the risk for inflammatory disease. These aging-related γδT-cell variations in gingival tissues that could increase the risk for inflammation and periodontal disease remain unknown. Here we sought to identify quantitative and qualitative variations in gingival γδT cells associated with aging that could have an impact in oral immunoinflammatory responses. For this, gingival tissues from young (4 mo) and aged (24 mo) male and female mice were collected and analyzed by flow cytometry. Cell suspensions were stimulated and stained with eFluor450 (cell viability), anti-CD45 (hematopoietic cells), anti-CD3 (lymphocytes), anti-TCRγδ (γδT cells), anti–IL-15rα (cell proliferation), and anti–Notch-3 (senescence marker). Detection of intracellular cytokines IL-17A and interferon γ (IFNγ) was performed. Gingival expression of specific γ- and δ-chains and cytokines was evaluated by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. A significantly higher number of IL-17A–producing γδT cells and IL-17A expression levels were observed in gingival tissues from aged females but not males. Similarly, the number of gingival Notch-3+ γδT cells increased with aging only in females. IL-15rα was not detected in gingival γδT cells. Chains γ1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 as well as δ1, 2, 4, and 6 were detected. Detection levels of all γ chains except γ1 as well as δ1 and δ2 changed with aging in males, females, or both. Interestingly, number of IL-17A–producing conventional T cells similarly increased with aging only in females. Both sexes showed increased IFNγ+ conventional T-cell numbers with aging; however, it reached significance only in females. In conclusion, the number of gingival IL-17A–producing γδT cells and IL-17A expression increase naturally with aging specifically in females. This sexual dimorphism in gingival γδT and conventional Th17 cell numbers and phenotypes suggests distinct aging-related mechanisms of periodontitis in males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research and American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research 2023.


  • IFNγ
  • IL-15R
  • IL-17A
  • Notch-3
  • gingival conventional T cells
  • sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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