Innate-like tissue-resident γδ T cell compartments capable of protecting against carcinogenesis are well established in mice. Conversely, the degree to which they exist in humans, their potential properties, and their contributions to host benefit are mostly unresolved. Here, we demonstrate that healthy human breast harbors a distinct γδ T cell compartment, primarily expressing T cell receptor (TCR) Vδ1 chains, by comparison to Vδ2 chains that predominate in peripheral blood. Breast-resident Vδ1+ cells were functionally skewed toward cytolysis and IFN-γ production, but not IL-17, which has been linked with inflammatory pathologies. Breast-resident Vδ1+ cells could be activated innately via the NKG2D receptor, whereas neighboring CD8+ αβ T cells required TCR signaling. A comparable population of Vδ1+ cells was found in human breast tumors, and when paired tumor and nonmalignant samples from 11 patients with triple-negative breast cancer were analyzed, progression-free and overall survival correlated with Vδ1+ cell representation, but not with either total γδ T cells or Vδ2+ T cells. As expected, progression-free survival also correlated with αβ TCRs. However, whereas in most cases TCRαβ repertoires focused, typical of antigen-specific responses, this was not observed for Vδ1+ cells, consistent with their innate-like responsiveness. Thus, maximal patient benefit may accrue from the collaboration of innate-like responses mounted by tissue-resident Vδ1+ compartments and adaptive responses mounted by αβ T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaax9364
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number513
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'An innate-like Vδ1+ γδ T cell compartment in the human breast is associated with remission in triple-negative breast cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this