Cytokine synthesis and apoptosis by intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes: signaling of high density alpha beta T cell receptor+ and gamma delta T cell receptor+ T cells via T cell receptor-CD3 complex results in interferon-gamma and interleukin-5 production, while low density T cells undergo DNA fragmentation

Eur J Immunol. 1994 Jun;24(6):1301-6. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830240609.


To study the biological consequences of cytokine production and apoptosis by intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL), we have studied these characteristics in both the high and low density CD3+ IEL populations. Stimulation of low- or high-density CD3+ IEL via the T cell receptor (TCR)-CD3 complex using monoclonal anti-CD3, anti-alpha beta TCR or anti-gamma delta TCR antibodies resulted in opposing effects. In one case, a significant number of the high-density CD3+ T cells entered cell cycle from the resting stage (DNA replication was observed) and anti-TCR-CD3 treatment enhanced the numbers of interferon-gamma and interleukin-5 spot-forming cells in this cell fraction. In contrast, when the low-density alpha beta TCR+ or gamma delta TCR+ T cells were activated via the TCR-CD3 complex, DNA fragmentation was observed. These results demonstrated that the activation signals transduced via the TCR-CD3 complex resulted in their entry into the cell cycle and subsequent interferon-gamma and interleukin-5 production in the high-density IEL T cell subset. However, identical signals induced apoptosis in the majority of the low-density fraction of CD3+ IEL.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • CD3 Complex / physiology
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • DNA Replication
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-5 / biosynthesis
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Receptor-CD3 Complex, Antigen, T-Cell / physiology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / physiology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • CD3 Complex
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-5
  • Receptor-CD3 Complex, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Interferon-gamma