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J Immunol. 1999 Sep 15;163(6):3202-10.

Selective retention of activated CD8+ T cells by the normal liver.

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Section of Immunobiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Activation-induced cell death resulting in peripheral deletion of CD8+ T cells is associated with the accumulation of large numbers of apoptotic T cells in the liver. The hypothesis that this accumulation results from the intrahepatic trapping of T cells from the circulating pool predicts that the liver should retain T cells, which subsequently undergo apoptosis. Here we test this prediction. Perfusion of the liver with lymphocyte mixtures showed retention of activated, but neither resting nor apoptosing, T cells. This trapping was selective for CD8+ cells and was mediated primarily by ICAM-1 constitutively expressed on sinusoidal endothelial cells and Kupffer cells. T cells trapped in the liver became apoptotic. The normal liver is therefore a "sink" for activated T cells.

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