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The liver is bathed in bacterial products, including lipopolysaccharide transported from the intestinal portal vasculature, but maintains a state of tolerance that is exploited by persistent pathogens and tumours1-4. The cellular basis mediating this tolerance, yet allowing a switch to immunity or immunopathology, needs to be better understood for successful immunotherapy of liver diseases. Here we show that a variable proportion of CD8+ T cells compartmentalized in the human liver co-stain for CD14 and other prototypic myeloid membrane proteins and are enriched in close proximity to CD14high myeloid cells in hepatic zone 2. CD14+CD8+ T cells preferentially accumulate within the donor pool in liver allografts, among hepatic virus-specific and tumour-infiltrating responses, and in cirrhotic ascites. CD14+CD8+ T cells exhibit increased turnover, activation and constitutive immunomodulatory features with high homeostatic IL-10 and IL-2 production ex vivo, and enhanced antiviral/anti-tumour effector function after TCR engagement. This CD14+CD8+ T cell profile can be recapitulated by the acquisition of membrane proteins-including the lipopolysaccharide receptor complex-from mononuclear phagocytes, resulting in augmented tumour killing by TCR-redirected T cells in vitro. CD14+CD8+ T cells express integrins and chemokine receptors that favour interactions with the local stroma, which can promote their induction through CXCL12. Lipopolysaccharide can also increase the frequency of CD14+CD8+ T cells in vitro and in vivo, and skew their function towards the production of chemotactic and regenerative cytokines. Thus, bacterial products in the gut-liver axis and tissue stromal factors can tune liver immunity by driving myeloid instruction of CD8+ T cells with immunomodulatory ability.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





334 - 342


Humans, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Lipopolysaccharide Receptors, Lipopolysaccharides, Myeloid Cells, Neoplasms, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Immune Tolerance, Liver, Interleukin-2, Chemotaxis, Leukocyte, Bacteria, Intestines