Functional and Vbeta repertoire characterization of human CD8+ T-cell subsets with natural killer cell markers, CD56+ CD57- T cells, CD56+ CD57+ T cells and CD56- CD57+ T cells

Immunology. 2003 Feb;108(2):211-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.2003.01575.x.


We investigated the individual CD8+ populations with natural killer (NK) cell markers (NK-type T cell); CD56 single positive (CD56)-T cells, CD56/CD57 double positive (DP)-T cells and CD57 single positive (CD57)-T cells in the peripheral blood. All NK-type T-cell populations expressed CD122 and intermediate levels of T-cell receptor (TCR; regular CD8+ T cells are CD122- and express high levels of TCR). The number of both DP-T cells and CD57-T cells, but not CD56-T cells, gradually increased with age. All NK-type T-cell populations produced larger amounts of interferon-gamma than did regular CD8+ T cells after stimulation with interleukin (IL)-2, IL-12 and IL-15. However, CD56-T cells and CD57-T cells but not DP-T cells showed a potent antitumour cytotoxity to NK-sensitive K562 cells, whereas only CD56-T cells showed a potent cytotoxity to NK-resistant Raji cells. Furthermore, although NK-type T cells produced large amounts of soluble Fas-ligands, their cytotoxic activities appeared to be mediated by the perforin/granzyme pathway. The oligoclonal or pauciclonal expansions of certain VbetaT cells were found in each NK-type T-cell population. The non-variant CDR3 region(s) for the TCRbeta chain(s) showed CD57-T cells and CD56-T cells to be derived from distinct origins, while the DP-T cell population consisted of a mixture of the clones seen in both CD56-T cells and CD57-T cells. Our results suggest that CD57-T cells and CD56-T cells are functionally and ontogenically different populations while DP-T cells appear to originate from both CD56-T cells and CD57-T cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology
  • Base Sequence
  • CD56 Antigen / blood
  • CD57 Antigens / blood
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / blood*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / blood
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • CD56 Antigen
  • CD57 Antigens
  • FASLG protein, human
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Interferon-gamma