The presence of antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells has been suggested in a number of in vivo and in vitro studies in fish. Acute allograft rejection with an accelerated response on second-set grafts and the presence of graft-versus-host reaction (GVHR) has been reported in teleost. Alloantigen- and virus-specific cytotoxicity has also been demonstrated in ex vivo studies in ginbuna and rainbow trout. In addition, alloantigen-specific cytotoxic T cell clones have been produced in cultures initiated with peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) from an alloantigen-immunized channel catfish.Over the last decade several fish genomes have been sequenced and genetic information is rapidly accumulating. Thanks to these genome data bases and EST analysis, mRNA expression of T cell surface marker genes in alloantigen- or virus-specific effector cells has been reported in some fish species, e.g. TCR α or β and CD8α in ginbuna and rainbow trout, and TCR α, β or γ in channel catfish. These findings suggest the presence of CD8 + cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) in fish similar to those of higher vertebrates. Recently, monoclonal antibodies against CD8α and CD4 antigens have been produced in some fish species. Investigation on the characteristics of CTL and cell-mediated immune mechanisms is now possible at defined T cell subsets, although identification of T cell subset is limited in a few fish species at present. In this review, we describe the recent progress in this field focusing on cells involved in antigen specific cytotoxicity.
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