The present study examined mechanisms of tolerance for T cell receptor gamma/delta (TCR-gamma/delta) cells. Using a transgenic (Tg) model, we demonstrate that although alloantigen (Ag)-specific TCR-gamma/delta cells are deleted in the thymus and spleen of Ag-bearing mice, intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) expressing normal levels of the Tg TCR were present. However, Tg+ IELs from Ag-bearing mice were unresponsive to activation. Furthermore, self-reactive Tg+ IELs decreased in number over time. Thus, in epithelial tissue, Tg TCR-gamma/delta cells are eliminated subsequent to and most likely as a result of the induction of clonal anergy.

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