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Although gammadelta cells are commonly hypothesized to provide a 'first line of defence', gammadelta-cell-deficient mice are generally only marginally more susceptible to pathogens. Because gammadelta cells are enriched within epithelia, it is important to resolve whether immunoprotective capacity towards epithelial-tropic pathogens is absent from the gammadelta-cell compartment, or whether such activity is present but simply redundant with that of alphabeta T cells. In this work, following infection of the intestinal epithelium of alphabeta T-cell-deficient mice with the coccidian parasite, Eimeria vermiformis, gammadelta cells were shown to support the rapid activation of other lymphoid cells and to confer a transferable antipathogen effect that could be eradicated by neutralization of interferon-gamma. However, unlike alphabeta T cells, these effects of gammadelta cells showed no evidence of functional immunological memory. These results are directly relevant to coccidiosis, an economically significant disease of livestock, and should have general relevance to infections involving alphabeta T-cell deficiencies, e.g. cryptosporidiosis in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





325 - 332


Adoptive Transfer, Animals, Coccidiosis, Eimeria, Immunity, Cellular, Immunologic Memory, Interferon-gamma, Lymph Nodes, Mesentery, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta, T-Lymphocyte Subsets