Canine CD4+CD8+ double-positive T cells can develop from CD4+ and CD8+ T cells

Doris Bismarck, Peter F Moore, Gottfried Alber, Heiner von Buttlar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


For a long time the expression of the CD4 and CD8 receptor on peripheral blood T cells was thought to be mutually exclusive. However, in canine peripheral blood, similar to other species as swine or human for example, mature CD4+CD8+ double-positive (dp) T cells exist which simultaneously express both surface receptors and have features of activated T cells. Canine CD4+CD8+dp T cells are heterogeneous and can be divided into three subpopulations by their intensity of CD4 and CD8α expression: CD4brightCD8αbright, CD4dimCD8αbright and CD4dimCD8αdim. The number of CD4+CD8α+dp T cells increases after in vitro stimulation of canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) raising the question of their progenitor(s). Thus, the aim of our study was to characterize the progenitor(s) of canine CD4+CD8α+dp T cells. By cell tracing experiments we identified both CD4+ single-positive (sp) and also CD8α+sp T cells as progenitors of canine CD4+CD8α+dp T cells after in vitro stimulation. CD4+sp T cells almost exclusively upregulate a CD8αα homodimer, whereas CD8α+sp T cells can become CD4+CD8αβ+ or CD4+CD8αα+. Even in the absence of other cells, highly purified CD4+sp T cells can become double-positive upon in vitro stimulation, whereas highly purified CD8α+sp T cells fail to do so. However, CD8α+sp T cells can additionally express CD4 when stimulated in the presence of CD4-CD8α- double-negative (dn) cells or more efficiently when stimulated in the presence of CD4+sp T cells. Soluble factors secreted by CD4+sp T cells are sufficient for the upregulation of CD4 on CD8α+sp T cells, but direct cell-cell contact between CD4+sp and CD8α+sp T cells is more efficient. mRNA analysis shows that additional CD4 expression on CD8α+sp T cells results from de novo synthesis. Thus, uptake of soluble CD4 or trogocytosis is less likely as mechanism for generation of canine double-positive T cells. CD4+CD8α+dp T cells are highly activated independent of their origin except when generated in coculture of CD8α+sp T cells with CD4-CD8α-dn cells. Overall, in dog, CD4+sp T cells are the more potent progenitors of CD4+CD8α+dp T cells compared to CD8α+sp T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-82
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 15 2014


  • CD4 receptor
  • CD4<sup>+</sup>CD8<sup>+</sup>double-positive T cells
  • CD8 receptor
  • Dog
  • Progenitor
  • Stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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