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γδ T cells are the predominant T cell type in opossum mammaries during lactation
- Fehrenkamp, Bethaney D., Miller, Robert D.
- Developmental and comparative immunology 2019
- Monodelphis domestica, T-lymphocytes, adaptive immunity, animal tissues, epithelial cells, evolution, immunohistochemistry, lactation, mammary glands, milk, neonates, nutritional support, opossums, passive immunity, weaning
- Milk provides mammalian neonates with nutritional support and passive immunity. This is particularly true in marsupials where young are born highly altricial and lacking many components of a fully functional adaptive immune system. Here we investigated the T cell populations in the mammaries of a lactating marsupial, the gray short-tailed opossum Monodelphis domestica. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the presence of T cells within the opossum mammaries throughout lactation. Results of quantifying transcript abundance for lymphocyte markers are consistent with γδ T cells being the most common T cell type within lactating mammaries. Numbers of γδ T cells appear to peak early during the first postnatal week, and then decline throughout lactation until weaning. In contrast, numbers of αβ T cells and γμ T cells appear to be low to non-existent in the lactating mammaries. The results support an ancient and conserved role of immune cells in the evolution and function of mammalian mammary tissue.