Gamma delta T cell help of B cells is induced by repeated parasitic infection, in the absence of other T cells

Curr Biol. 1996 Oct 1;6(10):1317-25. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(02)70718-5.


Background: gamma delta T cells, like alpha beta T cells, are components of all well-studied vertebrate immune systems. Yet, the contribution of gamma delta T cells to immune responses is poorly characterized. In particular, it has not been resolved whether gamma delta cells, independent of any other T cells, can help B cells produce immunoglobulin and form germinal centers, anatomical foci of specialized T cell-B cell collaboration.

Results: TCR beta-/- mice, which lack all T cells except gamma delta T cells, routinely displayed higher levels of antibody than fully T cell-deficient mice. Repeated parasitic infection of TCR beta-/- mice, but not of T cell-deficient mice, increased antibody levels and induced germinal centers that contained B cells and monoclonal gamma delta cells in close juxtaposition. However, antibody specificities were more commonly against self than against the challenging pathogen. gamma delta T cell-B cell help was not induced by repeated inoculation of TCR beta-/- mice with mycobacterial antigens.

Conclusions: In the absence of any other T cells, gamma delta T cell-B cell collaboration can be significantly enhanced by repeated infection. However, the lack of obvious enrichment for antibodies against the challenging pathogen distinguishes gamma delta T cell help from alpha beta T cell help induced under analogous circumstances. The increased production of generalized antibodies may be particularly relevant to the development of autoimmunity, which commonly occurs in patients suffering from alpha beta T cell deficiencies, such as AIDS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood*
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • Coccidiosis / immunology
  • Eimeria / immunology
  • Gene Rearrangement, gamma-Chain T-Cell Antigen Receptor
  • Germinal Center / immunology
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • CD4 Antigens
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta