Distinct subpopulations of gamma delta T cells are present in normal and tumor-bearing human liver

Clin Immunol. 2004 Oct;113(1):56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2004.05.003.


Gamma delta T cells are thought to mediate immune responses at epithelial surfaces. We have quantified and characterized hepatic and peripheral blood gamma delta T cells from 11 normal and 13 unresolved tumor-bearing human liver specimens. gamma delta T cells are enriched in normal liver (6.6% of T cells) relative to matched blood (0.9%; P = 0.008). The majority express CD4(-)CD8(-) phenotypes and many express CD56 and/or CD161. In vitro, hepatic gamma delta T cells can be induced to kill tumor cell lines and release interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-2 and interleukin-4. Analysis of V gamma and V delta chain usage indicated that V delta 3(+) cells are expanded in normal livers (21.2% of gamma delta T cells) compared to blood (0.5%; P = 0.001). Tumor-bearing livers had significant expansions and depletions of gamma delta T cell subsets but normal cytolytic activity. This study identifies novel populations of liver T cells that may play a role in immunity against tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / immunology*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


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