CD8+CD103+ T cells analogous to intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes infiltrate the pancreas in chronic pancreatitis

Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Nov;93(11):2141-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1998.00610.x.


Objective: Chronic pancreatitis is a painful chronic inflammatory disease of the exocrine pancreas that is associated with the replacement of functional parenchyma by extended fibrosis and with a massive infiltration of T lymphocytes. However, to date further characterization of infiltrating T cells in chronic pancreatitis has not been undertaken.

Methods: Using the novel method of multiepitope imaging with fluorochrome-tagged specific monoclonal antibodies, which allows the simultaneous localization and characterization of T cells in tissues, we analyzed the distribution and phenotypes of T cells infiltrating the pancreas in chronic pancreatitis.

Results: The mean CD4:CD8 ratio in 10 cases of chronic pancreatitis was 2.4:1. In order of decreasing frequency, the following markers were observed: CD45RO, CD18, TCRgammadelta, and CD103. The lymphocytes, especially of the CD4+ subset, were found mainly in the fibrous stroma, but T cells were also observed periductally. A T-cell subset bearing the phenotype CD8+CD103+, analogous to intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes, was found intracalating between the cells of the ductal epithelium.

Conclusions: Phenotyping of the T lymphocytes in chronic pancreatitis supports the concept of the involvement of cell-mediated cytotoxicity in the pathogenesis of this disease. In addition, intraepithelial lymphocytes were found interspersed between the ductal epithelial cells, pointing to a role of this T-cell subset as a first-line defense against deleterious epithelial events in chronic pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / analysis*
  • CD18 Antigens / analysis
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Integrin alpha Chains*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatitis / pathology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / analysis
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD18 Antigens
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Epitopes
  • Integrin alpha Chains
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • alpha E integrins
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens