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J Immunol. 2000 May 1;164(9):4853-60.

Up-regulation of VCAM-1 and differential expansion of beta integrin-expressing T lymphocytes are associated with immunity to pulmonary Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

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Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, Newtown, Australia.


Immune responses rely on an intricate system of adhesion molecules to coordinate the homing and retention of lymphocytes in both secondary lymphoid tissues and at sites of infection. To define the events associated with pulmonary immune responses, the expression of endothelial addressins and integrins on T cells was analyzed during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. In infected lung, expression of endothelial VCAM-1, but not mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1, was up-regulated from 4 wk postinfection and persisted to at least 12 wk. Subsequent analysis of the corresponding integrins expressed on lung CD4+ and CD8+ T cells revealed an accumulation of beta1high/beta7-/low, and to a lesser extent beta7high, integrin-expressing T cells during infection. Examination of integrin heterodimers showed that while alpha4 integrin was predominantly expressed on beta1high/beta7-/low cells, alphaE integrin was primarily associated with beta7high. The majority of activated/memory T cells recruited during infection expressed high levels of beta1 integrin and undetectable or low levels of beta7 integrin. These T cells were capable of producing IFN-gamma, a cytokine crucial for controlling M. tuberculosis infection. Rapid expansion of beta1high, beta7-, and beta7high T cell populations in the lung upon secondary mycobacterial infection indicates the participation of these populations in the acquired immune response to the infection. Furthermore, treatment of infected mice with mAb to alpha4 or alpha4beta7 integrin led to a reduction in lymphocytes and increase in granulocytes in the pulmonary infiltrate. These results reveal a crucial role for adhesion molecules in the generation of an effective pulmonary immune response to M. tuberculosis infection.

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