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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.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





1317 - 1325


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