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Oct 2014 Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology

Membrane expression of NK receptors CD160 and CD158k contributes to delineate a unique CD4+ T-lymphocyte subset in normal and mycosis fungoides skin.


Sako N, Schiavon V, Bounfour T, Dessirier V, Ortonne N, Olive D, Ram-Wolff C, Michel L, Marie-Cardine A, Bagot M, Bensussan A, Schmitt C


CD160 is a GPI-anchored Ig-like receptor identified by the BY55 mAb on human circulating CD56dim+ NK cells and TCRγδ lymphocytes. In addition, while most intestinal T lymphocytes express it, only a minor circulating CD4+ or CD8+ T lymphocyte subset is CD160+. Here we describe a population of CD4+ CD160+ human blood T lymphocytes of circulating cutaneous T cells. These rare T lymphocytes represent 2.1 ± 1.9% of the circulating CD3+ CD4+ T cells, coexpress CD8αα, CD244, and perforin but lack CD28 expression, a phenotype corresponding to effector memory cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. Functional studies further confirmed their cytotoxic potential. These cells lack αEβ7 integrin and CCR7 expression but do express skin-addressing molecules CLA, and CCR4. In normal human skin, CD4+ CD160+ cells represent 34.6 ± 14.7% of the CD4+ T lymphocytes extracted by collagenase treatment. These T cells coexpress CLA (81 ± 13.6%), CCR4 (62.3 ± 15.9%), and some CD8αα (19.6 ± 13%) or CCR7 (24.4 ± 11.7%) expression. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma cells express the natural killer receptor KIR3DL2 (CD158k) used as a tumor marker. Not only we confirmed the expression of this marker in the blood and/or skin of mycosis fungoides patients but we also show for the first time CD158k expression (often associated with CD160) on cutaneous CD4+ T cells from healthy individuals (25.3 ± 15%). Therefore, CD4+ CD160+ T cells expressing CD158k might represent specialized cutaneous lymphocytes devoted to immune surveillance, from which could originate cutaneous T-cell lymphomas such as mycosis fungoides.

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