The dominant Vγ2Vγ2 T cell subset recognizes phosphoantigen and exists only in humans and nonhuman primates. Despite the discovery of γ δ T cells >30 y ago, a proof-of-concept study has not been done to prove the principle that the Vγ2Vδ2 T cell subset is protective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other infections. In this study, we used an adoptive cell-transfer strategy to define the protective role of Vγ2Vδ2 T cells in a primate tuberculosis (TB) model. Vγ2Vδ2 T cells for adoptive transfer displayed central/effector memory and mounted effector functions, including the production of anti-M. tuberculosis cytokines and inhibition of intracellular mycobacteria. They also expressed CXCR3/CCR5/LFA-1 trafficking/tissue-resident phenotypes and consistently trafficked to the airway, where they remained detectable from 6 h through 7 d after adoptive transfer. Interestingly, the test group of macaques receiving transfer of Vγ2Vδ2 T cells at weeks 1 and 3 after high-dose (500 CFU) M. tuberculosis infection exhibited significantly lower levels of M. tuberculosis infection burdens in lung lobes and extrapulmonary organs than did the control groups receiving PBLs or saline. Consistently, adoptive transfer of Vγ2Vδ2 T cells attenuated TB pathology and contained lesions primarily in the infection site of the right caudal lung lobe, with no or reduced TB dissemination to other lobes, spleen, or liver/kidney; in contrast, the controls showed widespread TB dissemination. The proof-of-concept finding supports the view that the dominant Vγ2Vγ2 T cell subset may be included in the rational design of a TB vaccine or host-directed therapy.
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