Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The C-type lectin-like receptor CD161 is expressed by lymphocytes found in human gut and liver, as well as blood, especially natural killer (NK) cells, T helper 17 (Th17) cells, and a population of unconventional T cells known as mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells. The association of high CD161 expression with innate T-cell populations including MAIT cells is established. Here we show that CD161 is also expressed, at intermediate levels, on a prominent subset of polyclonal CD8+ T cells, including antiviral populations that display a memory phenotype. These memory CD161(int)CD8+ T cells are enriched within the colon and express both CD103 and CD69, markers associated with tissue residence. Furthermore, this population was characterized by enhanced polyfunctionality, increased levels of cytotoxic mediators, and high expression of the transcription factors T-bet and eomesodermin (EOMES). Such populations were induced by novel vaccine strategies based on adenoviral vectors, currently in trial against hepatitis C virus. Thus, intermediate CD161 expression marks potent polyclonal, polyfunctional tissue-homing CD8+ T-cell populations in humans. As induction of such responses represents a major aim of T-cell prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines in viral disease and cancer, analysis of these populations could be of value in the future.

Original publication




Journal article


Mucosal immunol

Publication Date





401 - 413


Adenoviridae, Antigens, CD, Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Clinical Trials as Topic, Colitis, Ulcerative, Colon, Crohn Disease, Gene Expression Regulation, Hepacivirus, Hepatitis C, Humans, Immunologic Memory, Integrin alpha Chains, Intestinal Mucosa, Killer Cells, Natural, Lectins, C-Type, Lymphocyte Activation, NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B, Primary Cell Culture, Signal Transduction, T-Box Domain Proteins, Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate, Th17 Cells