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Keywords:

  • CD4 regulatory cells;
  • regulatory T cells;
  • renal allograft;
  • renal allograft rejection

We have shown that CD39 and CD73 are coexpressed on the surface of murine CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) and generate extracellular adenosine, contributing to Treg immunosuppressive activity. We now describe that CD39, independently of CD73, is expressed by a subset of blood-derived human CD4+CD25+CD127lo Treg, defined by robust expression of Foxp3. A further distinct population of CD4+CD39+ T lymphocytes can be identified, which do not express CD25 and FoxP3 and exhibit the memory effector cellular phenotype. Differential expression of CD25 and CD39 on circulating CD4+ T cells distinguishes between Treg and pathogenic cellular populations that secrete proinflammatory cytokines such as IFNγ and IL-17. These latter cell populations are increased, with a concomitant decrease in the CD4+CD25+CD39+ Tregs, in the peripheral blood of patients with renal allograft rejection. We conclude that the ectonucleotidase CD39 is a useful and dynamic lymphocytes surface marker that can be used to identify different peripheral blood T cell-populations to allow tracking of these in health and disease, as in renal allograft rejection.