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J Exp Med. 2004 May 3;199(9):1265-75.

A skin-selective homing mechanism for human immune surveillance T cells.

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  • 1Theodor-Kocher Institute, University of Bern, P.O. Box 99, CH-3000 Bern 9, Switzerland.


Effective immune surveillance is essential for maintaining protection and homeostasis of peripheral tissues. However, mechanisms controlling memory T cell migration to peripheral tissues such as the skin are poorly understood. Here, we show that the majority of human T cells in healthy skin express the chemokine receptor CCR8 and respond to its selective ligand I-309/CCL1. These CCR8(+) T cells are absent in small intestine and colon tissue, and are extremely rare in peripheral blood, suggesting healthy skin as their physiological target site. Cutaneous CCR8(+) T cells are preactivated and secrete proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma, but lack markers of cytolytic T cells. Secretion of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, and transforming growth factor-beta was low to undetectable, arguing against a strict association of CCR8 expression with either T helper cell 2 or regulatory T cell subsets. Potential precursors of skin surveillance T cells in peripheral blood may correspond to the minor subset of CCR8(+)CD25(-) T cells. Importantly, CCL1 is constitutively expressed at strategic cutaneous locations, including dermal microvessels and epidermal antigen-presenting cells. For the first time, these findings define a chemokine system for homeostatic T cell traffic in normal human skin.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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