The present study has focused on the analysis of cytokine- and Ig-producing mononuclear cells (MC) that reside in the salivary glands and their associated tissues (SGAT) in the oral region. The SGAT are located under the mandibular area and consist of submandibular glands, periglandular lymph nodes, and cervical lymph nodes. MC were isolated from individual SGAT and examined for T cell subsets and TCR expression, in comparison with T cells obtained from other mucosa-associated and systemic tissues. Forty to fifty percent of MC in submandibular glands were CD3+ T cells, equally divided into CD4+ CD8- and CD4- CD8+ T cell subsets. On the other hand, the intestinal lamina propria and Peyer's patches possessed a approximately 2 to 3:1 ratio of CD4+ CD8- to CD4- T cells. A high frequency of CD4- CD8- (double negative) (DN) T cells (approximately 6 to 10%) was also isolated from submandibular glands. In contrast, approximately 70 to 90% of MC in periglandular lymph nodes and cervical lymph nodes were CD3+ T cells and like the peripheral lymph nodes consisted of fivefold higher numbers of CD4+ CD8- than CD4- CD8+ T cells, with low numbers of DN cells (less than 5%). When expression of gamma/delta and alpha/beta TCR was examined in individual T cell subsets of submandibular glands, the CD4- CD8+ and DN T cell fractions contained 25% and 100% gamma/delta TCR+ cells, respectively. On the other hand, essentially all CD4+ CD8- T cells in SGAT as well as CD4- CD8+ cells in periglandular lymph nodes and cervical lymph nodes were alpha/beta TCR+ T cells. When cytokine production was examined by using IFN-gamma- and IL-5-specific enzyme-linked immunospot assays, the CD3+ CD4+ CD8- T cells in submandibular glands contained T cells spontaneously producing IFN-gamma and IL-5. Further, IL-5 spot-forming cells (SFC) were two- to threefold greater in number, compared with IFN-gamma SFC. The periglandular lymph node T cells contained cytokine producing cells with a ratio of 2:1 for IL-5 and IFN-gamma SFC cells, whereas cervical lymph node T cells did not produce cytokines unless stimulated with T cell mitogens. When the isotype distribution of Ig-producing cells was examined among SGAT, submandibular glands contained large numbers of IgA-producing cells, with few IgM- and IgG-producing cells, a pattern similar to that of the lamina propria. Further, elevated numbers of IgA-secreting cells were also seen in periglandular lymph nodes but not in cervical lymph nodes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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