Introduction: Although CD20 is classically a B cell marker, in the last three decades, dim expression has been noted on a subset of T cells as well that has been independently verified by a number of groups. Our understanding of these cells and their function is not well established.
Methods: A thorough review of original articles on CD20+ T cells was undertaken of Pubmed by using combination of phrases including "CD20+", "CD20-positive" and "T cells". Articles in English were considered, and there was no time restriction.
Results: CD20+ T cells express the standard T cell markers and, in comparison to CD20¯ T cells, appear to express greater inflammatory cytokines and markers of effector function. Although the ontogeny of these cells is still being established, the current theory is that CD20 may be acquired by trogocytosis from B cells. CD20+ T cells may be found in healthy controls and in a wide range of pathologies including autoimmune diseases, haematological and non-haematological malignancies and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. One of the best studied diseases where these cells are found is multiple sclerosis (MS) where a number of therapeutic interventions, including anti-CD20 depletion, have been shown to effectively deplete these cells.
Conclusion: This review summarises the latest understanding of CD20+ T cells, their presence in various diseases, their putative function and how they may be an ongoing target of CD20-depleting agents. Unfortunately, our understanding of these cells is still at its infancy and ongoing study in a wider range of pathologies is required.
Keywords: CD20; Cellular immunology; Flow cytometry; T cells.
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