Systemic Sclerosis and Fibrotic Conditions

The Role of γδ T Cells in Fibrotic Diseases

Ilan Bank


Inflammation induced by toxins, micro-organisms, or autoimmunity may result in pathogenic fibrosis, leading to long-term tissue dysfunction, morbidity, and mortality. Immune cells play a role in both induction and resolution of fibrosis. γδ T cells are an important group of unconventional T cells characterized by their expression of non-major histocompatibility complex restricted clonotypic T cell receptors for non-peptide antigens. Accumulating evidence suggests that subsets of γδ T cells in experimentally induced fibrosis following bleomycin treatment, or infection with Bacillus subtilis, play pro-inflammatory roles that instigate fibrosis, whereas the same cells may also play a role in resolving fibrosis. These processes appear to be linked at least in part to the cytokines produced by the cells at various stages, with interleukin (IL)-17 playing a central role in the inflammatory phase driving fibrosis, but later secretion of IL-22, interferon γ, and CXCL10 preventing pathologic fibrosis. Moreover, γδ T cells appear to be involved, in an antigen-driven manner, in the prototypic human fibrotic disease, systemic sclerosis (SSc). In this paper we review in brief the scientific publications that have implicated γδ T cells in fibrotic diseases and their pro- and anti-fibrotic effects.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016;7(4):e0029