In addition to the major intrathymic pathway of T cell differentiation, extrathymic pathways of such differentiation have been shown to exist in the liver and intestine. In particular, hepatic T cells of T cell receptors or CD3 of intermediate levels (i.e., intermediate T cell receptor cells) always contain self-reactive clones and sometimes appear at other sites, including the target tissues in autoimmune diseases and the tumor sites in malignancies. To prove their extrathymic origin and self reactivity, in this study we used thymectomized, irradiated (B6 x C3H/He) F1 mice subjected to transplantation of bone marrow cells of B6 mice. It was clearly demonstrated that all T cells generated under athymic conditions in the peripheral immune organs are intermediate CD3 cells. In the case of nonthymectomized irradiated mice, not only intermediate CD3 cells but also high CD3 cells were generated. Phenotypic characterization showed that newly generated intermediate CD3 cells were unique (e.g., interleukin 2 receptor alpha-/beta+ and CD44+ L-selectin-) and were, therefore, distinguishable from thymus-derived T cells. The precursor cells of intermediate CD3 cells in the bone marrow were Thy-1+ CD3-. The extrathymic generation of intermediate CD3 cells was confirmed in other combinations of bone marrow transplantation, C3H --> C3H and B10.Thy1.1 --> B6.Thy1.2. The generated intermediate CD3 cells in the liver contained high levels of self-reactive clones estimated by anti-V beta monoclonal antibodies in conjunction with the endogenous superantigen minor lymphocyte-stimulating system, especially the combination of B6 --> (B6 x C3H/He) (graft-versus-host-situation).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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