Thymus-Derived CD4+CD8+ Cells Reside in Mediastinal Adipose Tissue and the Aortic Arch

Holger Winkels, Yanal Ghosheh, Kouji Kobiyama, William B. Kiosses, Marco Orecchioni, Erik Ehinger, Vasantika Suryawanshi, Sara Herrera-De La Mata, Paola Marchovecchio, Thomas Riffelmacher, Nicolas Thiault, Mitchell Kronenberg, Dennis Wolf, Gregory Seumois, Pandurangan Vijayanand, Klaus Ley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Double-positive CD4+CD8ab+ (DP) cells are thought to reside as T cell progenitors exclusively within the thymus. We recently discovered an unexpected CD4+ and CD8ab+ immune cell population in healthy and atherosclerotic mice by single-cell RNA sequencing. Transcriptomically, these cells resembled thymic DPs. Flow cytometry and three-dimensional whole-mount imaging confirmed DPs in thymus, mediastinal adipose tissue, and aortic adventitia, but nowhere else. Deep transcriptional profiling revealed differences between DP cells isolated from the three locations. All DPs were dependent on RAG2 expression and the presence of the thymus. Mediastinal adipose tissue DPs resided in close vicinity to invariant NKT cells, which they could activate in vitro. Thymus transplantation failed to reconstitute extrathymic DPs, and frequencies of extrathymic DPs were unaltered by pharmacologic inhibition of S1P1, suggesting that their migration may be locally confined. Our results define two new, transcriptionally distinct subsets of extrathymic DPs that may play a role in aortic vascular homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2720-2732
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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