Here we find that CD8+ T cells expressing inhibitory killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are the human equivalent of Ly49+CD8+ regulatory T cells in mice and are increased in the blood and inflamed tissues of patients with a variety of autoimmune diseases. Moreover, these CD8+ T cells efficiently eliminated pathogenic gliadin-specific CD4+ T cells from celiac disease patients' leukocytes in vitro. We also find elevated levels of KIR+CD8+ T cells, but not CD4+ regulatory T cells, in COVID-19 patients, which correlated with disease severity and vasculitis. Selective ablation of Ly49+CD8+ T cells in virus-infected mice led to autoimmunity post infection. Our results indicate that in both species, these regulatory CD8+ T cells act uniquely to suppress pathogenic T cells in autoimmune and infectious diseases.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abi9591
View details for PubMedID 35258337