Granzymes are neutral serine proteases that are stored in the specialized lytic granules of cytotoxic lymphocytes. A mutation introduced into the granzyme B locus leads to a severe defect in the ability of cytotoxic lymphocytes to induce apoptosis in, susceptible target cells, and reduces the severity of class I-dependent acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). However, granzyme B-independent cytotoxicity also exists: in CD8+ cells, most of it is perforin-dependent, but in CD4+ cells, the Fas system and an additional pathway are involved. The identification of these pathways and their physiological relevance may lead to new approaches for inhibiting cytotoxic lymphocyte functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell-mediated cytotoxicity
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Granzyme B


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