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Keywords:

  • CD8+ Treg cells;
  • Suppression and cytotoxicity

Abstract

Previous studies in murine systems have demonstrated that CD8+ Treg cells down-regulate immune responses in vivo through suppressing activated CD4+ T cells. Here we describe novel regulatory CD8+ T-cell clones isolated from healthy human peripheral blood following in vitro stimulation with autologous Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-specific CD4+ T cells. TCR activation of CD4+ target T cells was required for CD8+ Treg cells to exert suppressive activity, which was mediated through lysis of CD4+ targets in a cell contact-dependent manner. Suppression was independent of Foxp3 expression in CD8+ Treg cells, HLA compatibility between CD8+ Treg cells and CD4+ target cells and antigen-specificity of CD4+ target T cells. CD8+ Treg clones expressed CD3 and a variety of TCR Vβ chains as well as CD56, CD69, CD62L and CD95 but did not express CD16, CD161, CXCR4 and CCR7. When used together, antibodies specific for CD11a/CD18 and CD8 inhibited suppressive activity of CD8+ Treg clones. The ability to establish clonal CD8+ T cells that maintain regulatory function in vitro will facilitate further studies to define this population in vivo and to identify the mechanisms used for recognition and suppression of activated target cells.