Phenotypic and functional characterization of blood gammadelta T cells in sleep apnea

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2003 Jul 15;168(2):242-9. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200210-1226OC. Epub 2003 Apr 30.


Hypoxia-induced lymphocyte dysfunction may be implicated in endothelial cell damage in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome. gammadelta T cells' unique migration, cytotoxic features, and accumulation in atherosclerotic plaques are considered critical in cardiovascular disorders. We characterized the phenotype, cytokine profile, adhesion properties, and cytotoxicity of gammadelta T cells in patients with OSA and control subjects. The following is a summary of our major findings regarding OSA gammadelta T cells: (1) a significant increase in the expression of the inhibitory natural killer B1 receptors was found; (2) the intracellular content of proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin-8 was increased, and the content of the antiinflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 was decreased; (3) gammadelta T cells of patients with OSA adhered significantly more avidly to nonactivated endothelial cells in culture than those of control subjects; (4) L-selectin expression was higher; (5) anti-E/P-selectin antibodies and anti-TNF-alpha antibodies decreased the adhesion index of OSA gammadelta T lymphocytes/endothelial cells but not of control subjects; and (6) cytotoxicity of OSA gammadelta T lymphocytes against endothelial cells in culture was 2.5-fold higher than that of control subjects and could be prevented by pretreatment with anti-TNF-alpha. Collectively these data implicate gammadelta T lymphocyte function in atherogenic sequelae in OSA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / blood*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta