Ontogeny and immunohistochemical localization of thymus-dependent and thymus-independent RT6+ cells in the rat

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Diabetes Division

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*ADP Ribose Transferases; Animals; Animals, Newborn; Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte; Blotting, Western; Female; Flow Cytometry; Histocompatibility Antigens; Immunoblotting; Immunohistochemistry; Intestinal Mucosa; Isoantibodies; Lymphoid Tissue; Male; *Membrane Glycoproteins; Phenotype; Rats; Rats, Inbred BB; Rats, Nude; Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta; Spleen; T-Lymphocyte Subsets; Thymus Gland


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


RT6 is a cell surface alloantigen that identifies a regulatory subset of peripheral T cells in the rat. Diabetes-prone BB rats are deficient in peripheral RT6+ T cells and develop spontaneous autoimmune insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Diabetes-resistant BB rats have normal numbers of RT6+ T cells, and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus can be induced in these animals by in vivo depletion of peripheral RT6+ cells. Athymic rats are also severely deficient in peripheral RT6+ T cells. Although very different with respect to the peripheral RT6+ cell compartment, normal, athymic, and diabetes-prone BB rats all generate RT6+ intestinal epithelial lymphocytes (IELs). The goal of these studies was to analyze the ontogeny of RT6+ IELs and peripheral lymphoid cells by in situ immunohistochemistry. We observed the following. 1) RT6+ IELs appear before alpha(beta) T-cell-receptor- expressing IELs in diabetes-prone BB, diabetes-resistant BB, and athymic WAG rats. 2) In vivo depletion of peripheral RT6+ T cells in diabetes-resistant BB rats using a cytotoxic monoclonal antibody is not accompanied by depletion of RT6+ IELs. 3) A population of RT6+ T-cell-receptor-negative IELs is present in normal, euthymic diabetes-resistant BB rats, constitutes a larger percentage of the euthymic but lymphopenic diabetes-prone BB rat IEL population, and is the predominant IEL phenotype in athymic WAG rats. These results suggest that RT6+ cells are composed of both thymus-dependent and thymus-independent cell subsets that have different developmental characteristics and may differ in function.


Am J Pathol. 1996 Jun;148(6):2043-56.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of pathology

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