Cytokine production and antigen recognition by human mucosal homing conjunctival effector memory cd8þ t cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

External organisations

  • Centre for Translational Inflammation Research; Rheumatology Research Group; University of Birmingham; Birmingham UK


PURPOSE. Conjunctival epithelial T cells are dominated by CD3þCD56-TCRabþCD8abþ lymphocytes. In this study we explored the antigen experience status, mucosal homing phenotype, cytokine expression, and viral antigen recognition of conjunctival epithelial CD8þ T cells from healthy individuals.

METHODS. Following ocular surface impression cytology, conjunctival cells were recovered by gentle agitation and analyzed by flow cytometry for cell surface markers, cytokine production (stimulated by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate [PMA]/ionomycin), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)/cytomegalovirus (CMV) immunodominant epitope recognition using major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I peptide tetramers.

RESULTS. In contrast to peripheral blood, conjunctival epithelial CD8þ T cells were dominantly CD45RA CCR7 effector memory cells, and the vast majority expressed the mucosal homing integrin aEb7. Conjunctival memory CD8þ T cells maintained effector functions with the ability to secrete IFN-c and expression of Granzyme B, although they expressed significantly reduced amounts per cell compared to peripheral blood T cells. Interestingly, herpetic virus- specific CD8þ T cells recognizing epitopes derived from EBV and CMV could be detected in the conjunctival cells of healthy virus carriers, although they were generally at lower frequencies than in the peripheral blood of the same donor. Virus-specific conjunctival CD8þ T cells were dominated by CD45RA CCR7 effector memory cells that expressed aEb7.

CONCLUSIONS. These data demonstrate that the majority of conjunctival epithelial CD8þ T cells are mucosal homing aEb7þ effector memory T cells, which can recognize viral epitopes and are capable of secreting Granzyme B and IFN-c.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8423-8430
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2014


  • CD8þ T cell, Conjunctiva, Impression cytology, Infection