The Role of Gamma Delta T Cells in Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases

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Autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs), affecting ~1-1.5% of all humans, are associated with considerable life long morbidity and early mortality. Early studies in the 1990s showed numerical changes of the recently discovered γδ T cells in the peripheral blood and in affected tissues of patients with a variety of ARDs, kindling interest in their role in the immuno-pathogenesis of these chronic inflammatory conditions. Indeed, later studies applied rapid developments in the understanding of γδ T cell biology, including antigens recognized by γδ T cells, their developmental programs, states of activation, and cytokine production profiles, to analyze their contribution to the pathological immune response in these disorders. Here we review the published studies addressing the role of γδ T in the major autoimmune rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma, and animal models thereof. Due to their unique properties spanning adaptive and innate immune functions, the ever deeper understanding of this unique T cell population is shedding new light on the pathogenesis of, while potentially enabling new therapeutic approaches to, these diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2261
Issue number2
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • gammadelta T cells
  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • systemic sclerosis


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