Major expansion of gammadelta T lymphocytes following cytomegalovirus infection in kidney allograft recipients

J Infect Dis. 1999 Jan;179(1):1-8. doi: 10.1086/314568.


In normal persons, circulating gammadelta T cells comprise a minor cell subset (0.5%-6% of total lymphocytes). gammadelta T cells were studied in the context of therapeutic immunosuppression in transplanted patients. Flow cytometry detected an expansion of gammadelta T cells in 31 of 205 renal allograft recipients and in 2 of 41 uremic patients but in none of 45 healthy subjects. Univariate statistical analysis identified cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection (P<. 001), second graft (P<.001), and antithymocyte globulin treatment (P=.01) as three variables associated with high levels (>=6%) of circulating gammadelta T cells in allograft recipients. Multivariate analysis further indicated that CMV infection was the only independent parameter associated with >6% gammadelta T cells. gammadelta T cell expansion directly followed CMV infection and was never observed in persons who did not develop CMV infection. Thus gammadelta T cells may represent a first-line defense mechanism against CMV infection in a person whose alphabeta T cell response has been weakened by immunosuppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / etiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opportunistic Infections / blood
  • Opportunistic Infections / etiology*
  • Opportunistic Infections / immunology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / metabolism*
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Uremia / blood
  • Uremia / immunology
  • Uremia / surgery


  • Antilymphocyte Serum
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta