Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

T Cell Recognition and Function

Yueh-Hsiu Chien studies T cells, one of the least understood components of the immune system. While these cells appear to contribute uniquely to host immune competence, it has been difficult to define their function.

T cells can account for 30% of the T cell infiltrate in multiple sclerosis lesions. T cells expand from 5 to 17% of PBMCs in patients during acute stages of P. Falciparum. Similar T cell expansion has been observed in M. Tuberculosis infection and Chron's disease. In addition, some T cells are found to react against several fresh or cultured tumors in vitro.

The involvement of T cells in tumor immunity is further supported by the in vivo experiments showing that transferring some T cells into SCID mice can inhibit the growth of Burkitt's lymphoma. Dr. Chien's work has suggested that classical and other non-classical MHC molecules, which are induced or otherwise regulated during immune responses, are biologically important gd T cell ligands and are recognized as intact molecules (e.g. not processed).

It is also clear that most ligands identified to date are "self" molecules, often associated with an activated or "damaged" state. A change in the glycolsylation state of a surface protein has also been shown by the Chien lab to trigger T cell reactivity. Thus these cells might be important in the bodies' response to transformed cells and Dr. Chien is actively pursuing this possibility.

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