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Scanning Microsc. 1991 Dec;5(4):1075-9; discussion 1079-80.

The role of the spleen in lymphocyte migration.

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  • 1Center of Anatomy, Medical School of Hannover, Germany.


In all species studied so far it was found that more lymphocytes migrate to the spleen than to all the lymph nodes together. Specific molecules on lymphocytes and endothelial cells regulate their entry into lymph nodes, but none of the known molecules play a role in homing to the spleen. The splenic compartments, comprising the red pulp, marginal zone, periarterial lymphatic sheath (PALS) and follicles, all show different kinetics for migrating lymphocytes. By combining 51Cr lymphocyte labeling with morphometry and two color immunohistochemistry, the migratory route of lymphocyte subsets can be followed through the spleen and absolute numbers of lymphocytes calculated in each compartment. T lymphocytes home preferentially to the PALS and B lymphocytes home not only to follicles but also in large numbers to the marginal zone and red pulp. CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes migrate similarly at early time points, but at 24 hours CD4+ lymphocytes are preferentially found in the PALS with CD8+ lymphocytes in the red pulp and marginal zone. The functional significance of the different routes of lymphocytes through the spleen has yet to be defined in relationship to specific immune functions and regulatory factors on splenic lymphocyte homing.

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