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T lymphocytes in the normal human intestinal tract have been analysed in tissue sections by a double-marker immunofluorescence technique, combining antiserum to T lymphocyte antigen (HuTLA) with a monoclonal antibody detecting T cells of suppressor-cytotoxic phenotype (OKT8). The distribution of HLA-A -B, -C and Ia-like antigens in intestinal mucosa was also examined by a similar method. In small and large intestine 67 to 90% (mean 70%) of intraepithelial T lymphocytes were of suppressor-cytotoxic phenotype (OKT8+). In contrast, only 27 to 56% (mean 39%) of lamina propria T cells were OKT8+. Intestinal epithelial cells demonstrated strong membrane staining for HLA-A, -B, -C antigens. Ia-like antigens were detected on the epithelial cells of small intestinal villi, but not on colonic epithelial cells. Lamina propria macrophages expressed both HLA-A, -B, -C and Ia-like antigens, the latter having strong membrane and cytoplasmic fluorescence. The distribution of T cells with suppressor-cytotoxic or inducer phenotype in the intestinal epithelium and lamina propria may be related to the differential expression of Ia-like and HLA-A, -B, -C antigens in intestinal mucosa.


Journal article


Clinical and experimental immunology

Publication Date





453 - 458


Intestinal Mucosa, T-Lymphocytes, Humans, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, HLA Antigens, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory