Development and Function of γδT Cells in the Oral Mucosa

A. H. Hovav*, A. Wilharm, O. Barel, I. Prinz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


To successfully withstand a wide variety of microbial and mechanical challenges, the immune system of the oral mucosa is composed of tissue-resident and specially recruited leukocytes. These leukocytes facilitate the establishment and maintenance of local homeostasis but are also capable to cause oral pathologies when are unrestrained. γδT cells represent an important tissue-resident innate T-cell population in various mucosal and nonmucosal barrier tissues, in which they are ideally located to assist in immunosurveillance, tissue repair, and homeostasis. Whereas most works studying γδT cells were focused on tissues such as the skin and intestine, these cells in the oral mucosa were only recently thoroughly studied. The findings obtained by those studies appear to be both complementary and contradicting, likely reflecting differences in the experimental settings and the type of transgenic mouse modalities employed by each study. Nevertheless, oral γδT cells were shown to consist of developmentally distinct tissue-resident Vγ6 cells and circulating Vγ1 and Vγ4 subsets that are independently maintained in the oral mucosa. In the gingiva, a particularly challenging barrier tissue due to its proximity to the dental plaque, γδT cells are strategically positioned close to the plaque and represent the major source of IL-17. While this suggests that γδT cells might be involved in controlling the dental biofilm, conflicting data were reported in this regard. In vivo studies have shown that γδT cells either play a protective role during age-associated bone loss or, alternatively, have no impact in this process. Also, recent reports suggested opposing data concerning the impact of γδT cells in experimental periodontitis based on the ligature model. This review summarizes and discusses the most up-to-date literature on oral γδT cells, providing a balanced perspective regarding our current understanding on the development of oral γδT cells and their role under physiologic conditions and certain oral pathologies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)498-505
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International & American Associations for Dental Research 2020.


  • bacteria
  • bone loss
  • gingiva
  • innate immunity
  • mucosal immunity
  • periodontal disease(s)/periodontitis


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