We recently demonstrated that the liver might be a major site of extrathymic T cell differentiation, including both αβ and δ T cells. This extrathymic pathway in the liver, which has a relatively minor role in normal young mice, is activated in mice under bacterial stimulation. In the present study, we investigated how the extrathymic and intrathymic T cell differentiations were mutually related in mice injected intravenously with 108 heat-killed Escherichia coli. Three days after stimulation, extrathymic T cells in the liver were observed to be prominently activated in terms of increases in the total number of cells yielded, spontaneous cell proliferation in in vitro culture, and intermediate αβ TCR cells. Intermediate αβ TCR cells were extrathymic T cells uniquely seen in the liver. However, at the same time intrathymic T cells were profoundly inactivated, showing decreases in the number of thymocytes (more than 90% atrophy), spontaneous cell proliferation, and dull TCR cells with double positive CD4+8+ phenotype. With time, these responses were reversed and normal states were regained. These results suggested that extrathymic and intrathymic T cells are always activated or inactivated in the opposite direction, and that the liver and the thymus are dynamic immune organs. It raises the possibility that the extrathymic T cell differentiation in the liver and the intrathymic T cell differentiation may be reciprocally regulated by certain factors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas