The effect of weaning on the clonality of alpha beta T-cell receptor T cells in the intestine of GF and SPF mice

Dev Comp Immunol. 2007;31(6):606-17. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2006.08.008. Epub 2006 Oct 6.


In humans, intestinal antigen exposure during neonatal life influences the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. To define the relative effects of bacteria and food antigens in early life, we examined TCR diversity in the intestine of SPF and GF mice. TCR repertoire was assessed at a single time point pre-, peri- and post-weaning in the small and large intestine of SPF and GF mice using spectratyping and/or TCR-beta-chain sequencing. There was good concordance of data obtained by the two techniques. In SPF mice, the repertoire was polyclonal shortly after birth in the small and large intestine. After weaning, there was a significant change towards an oligoclonal repertoire in the small intestine. There was some evidence that specific clones were shared between the small and large intestine. In contrast, in GF mice, the repertoire was oligoclonal after birth, and remained restricted. These data show: firstly, that under SPF conditions, the intestine is seeded with a diverse T-cell population that becomes oligoclonal around the time of weaning; secondly, that GF mice were oligoclonal at each time point.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clone Cells
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Germ-Free Life / immunology*
  • Immunity, Mucosal / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / growth & development
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Weaning


  • DNA Primers
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta