Establishing methods to characterize αβ and γδ T lymphocytes in human skin to discern their role in skin surveillance

Chronic non-healing wounds are a growing clinical burden, impacting 6.5 million patients in the United States alone (Sen et al., 2009). A variety of cells take part in the complex process of wound healing, which includes stages such as inflammation, re-epithelialization and maturation. T cells help mediate this process by secreting cytokines, growth factors and activating other cells to infiltrate the region. Two major subtypes of T cells reside in the skin: those expressing an αβ T cell receptor (TCR) chain and those expressing a γδ TCR chain on their cell surface. αβ and γδ T cell receptors recognize unique ligands and thus cells that express these receptors are likely to have different roles in immunity and homeostasis, yet those specific functions are not well known especially in humans. The goal of this study is to develop a method of cellular isolation and characterization for future studies to analyze T cell populations present in the skin. This will allow better understanding of the common and distinct roles played by αβ and γδ T cells in skin immunity and tissue repair. Currently there is intense research in elucidating the specific function of αβ and γδ T cells in human skin (Cruz, Diamond, Russell, & Jameson, 2018). Developing methods of isolation and characterization will allow new avenues for research and will further elucidate the specific roles of αβ and γδ T cells in human skin surveillance and wound repair.