Functionally distinct subsets of human gamma/delta T cells

Eur J Immunol. 1991 Dec;21(12):2999-3007. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830211215.


To determine if effector subsets exist among human gamma/delta T cells, we examined the cytokine production and cytotoxic activity of gamma/delta T cell clones with different accessory molecule phenotypes, V delta and V gamma gene expression, and J gamma rearrangements. T cell clones bearing gamma/delta T cell receptor produce an array of cytokines like alpha/beta T cell clones. Individual gamma/delta T cell clones produced a characteristic array of cytokines without correlation with V delta or V gamma gene expression. However, when phenotypic subsets were considered, CD4+ gamma/delta clones produced significantly higher levels of interleukin 2 and granulocyte-monocyte colony-stimulating factor compared with CD4-CD8- and CD8+ gamma/delta clones. Similarly, when cytotoxic potential was assessed, CD4+ gamma/delta clones exhibited minimal activity when compared with CD4-CD8- and CD8+ adult peripheral blood gamma/delta clones. We conclude that functionally distinct gamma/delta T cell subsets exist and suggest that these subsets may correlate with expression of the CD4 accessory molecule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis
  • Clone Cells
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Liver / embryology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / chemistry
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha