We have established fetal liver-derived T cell receptor (TCR) gamma/delta+, CD3+ T cell lines that are cytotoxic for maternal T cells. Fetal liver-derived lymphoid progenitors yielded predominantly TCR-gamma/delta+ cell clusters when cultured on fetal bone marrow-derived stromal cells in the presence of a cytokine cocktail under magnetic force. These tightly adherent clusters were cloned by limiting dilution and the resulting cell lines analyzed for phenotype and function. Six of eight TCR-gamma/delta lines from 8-9.5-wk gestation fetuses were V delta 2+ as compared with zero of eight lines from later stages of gestation (10 and 15 wk), where all the lines were V delta 1+. In cytotoxicity assays, these TCR-gamma/delta+, CD3+, CD4-, and CD8+ or CD8- long-term cultured lymphoid cells (LLC) were killer cells active against the class I antigens on maternal T cells. Of the cell lines, the CD8+ TCR-gamma/delta+ LLC had the highest levels of killer activity. Thus fetal liver TCR-gamma/delta+ T cells may play a crucial role in protection against invading maternal T cells generated in the feto-maternal interaction.

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