γδ T cells are fascinating cells that bridge the innate and adaptive immune systems. They have long been known to proliferate rapidly following infection; however, the identity of the specific γδ T cell subsets proliferating and the role of this expansion in protection from disease have only been explored more recently. Several recent studies have investigated γδ T-cell responses to vaccines targeting infections such as Mycobacterium, Plasmodium and influenza, and studies in animal models have provided further insight into the association of these responses with improved clinical outcomes. In this review, we examine the evidence for a role for γδ T cells in vaccine-induced protection against various bacterial, protozoan and viral infections. We further discuss results suggesting potential mechanisms for protection, including cytokine-mediated direct and indirect killing of infected cells, and highlight remaining open questions in the field. Finally, building on current efforts to integrate strategies targeting γδ T cells into immunotherapies for cancer, we discuss potential approaches to improve vaccines for infectious diseases by inducing γδ T-cell activation and cytotoxicity.
Keywords: Vγ9Vδ2 T cells; cytokines; infection; proliferation; vaccination; γδ T cells.