Peripheral T cell expansion in lymphopenic mice results in a restricted T cell repertoire

Eur J Immunol. 2000 Dec;30(12):3380-6. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(2000012)30:12<3380::AID-IMMU3380>3.0.CO;2-P.


In the absence of thymic contribution, the peripheral T cell pool is maintained by division of mature lymphocytes. Recent studies suggest that peripheral T cell expansion may be driven by low-affinity interactions with self ligands. Here we have investigated the consequence of homeostatic proliferation on the T cell repertoire. Following day 3 thymectomy of mice, there is a subsequent 30-fold expansion of the peripheral T cell population. Significantly, expansion of the T cell population results in skewed TCR Vbeta complementarity-determining region (CDR)3 length distributions and, in some cases, a marked bias toward one or two CDR3 lengths. TCR sequence analysis showed that these biases were a consequence of (oligo)clonal T cell expansion. Neonatally thymectomized adult mice have reduced antibody responses to primary challenge with T-dependent antigens. These data demonstrate that peripheral expansion of the T cell pool can result in a limited T cell repertoire, indicating that the array of stimulating ligands that drives homeostatic expansion is restricted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Complementarity Determining Regions / analysis
  • Lymphopenia / blood*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Thymectomy


  • Complementarity Determining Regions
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta