Circulating γδ T cells in young/adult and old patients with cutaneous primary melanoma

Francesca Re, Alessia Donnini, Beatrice Bartozzi, Giovanni Bernardini, Mauro Provinciali

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Background: In a previous study we demonstrated the existence of numerical and functional alterations of γδ T cells in healthy elderly. Recently, we analysed the involvement of γδ T lymphocytes in malignant melanoma, describing a lower frequency of circulating γδ T cells, an altered pattern of cytokine production, and an impaired in vitro expansion of these cells in primary cutaneous melanoma patients. Methods: In this study we investigated the existence of numerical and functional alterations of circulating γδ T cells in young/adult and old melanoma patients, comparing the data obtained with age-matched healthy subjects. Results: We demonstrated that the number of circulating γδ+ T cells was significantly and similarly reduced in young/adult and old melanoma patients and in old healthy subjects in comparison with young healthy donors. The decrease was due to a reduction of Vδ2 T cells whereas the number of Vδ1 T cells was not affected. A higher percentage of γδ+ T cells producing TNF-α was found in old healthy donors, whereas a reduced number of TNF-α-producing γδ+ T cells was present in melanoma patients independently by age. No significant difference was observed in IFN-γ production. After a 10-day in vitro culture, both the percentage and the expansion index of γδ T cells, and in particular of Vδ2 subset, were significantly and similarly reduced both in young/ adult and old melanoma patients, and in healthy aged people, in comparison with young/adult healthy subjects. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that the numerical and functional impairment of γδ T cells found in melanoma patients is not correlated with age and that it has characteristics very similar to the alterations of γδ T cells found in old healthy subjects. We suggest that a similar impairment of γδ T cell population may be related to the increased susceptibility to tumors present in the elderly as well as in the pathogenesis of malignant melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalImmunity and Ageing
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2005


  • γδT cells
  • Aging
  • Human
  • Melanoma
  • Tumor immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Immunology


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