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Am J Pathol. 2001 Feb;158(2):431-40.

Differential and sequential expression of multiple chemokines during elicitation of allergic contact hypersensitivity.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Würzburg Medical School, Würzburg, Germany.


Regulation of chemokine-mediated leukocyte migration within inflammatory tissues is a complex event that cannot be mimicked and analyzed in vitro. We therefore investigated the role of macrophage- and T-lymphocyte-specific chemoattractants involved in the positioning of immune effector cells during the elicitation phase of contact hypersensitivity, a prototype of a T-lymphocyte-mediated immune reaction. Serial sections of skin biopsies obtained from sensitized individuals at distinct time intervals after epicutaneous application of allergens were hybridized with anti-sense probes of a large panel of chemokines or immunohistologically labeled with leukocyte-specific antibodies. Multifocal expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) was already detected after 6 hours in basal keratinocytes clearly preceding the infiltration of monocytes and T cells. Increasing basal expression of MCP-1 and, in addition, of regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted (RANTES) after 12 hours was accompanied by dermal expression of MCP-1, macrophage-derived chemoattractant (MDC), and RANTES and paralleled by infiltration of mononuclear cells into dermis and epidermis. Expression of the T-lymphocyte-specific chemokines IP-10 and MIG in epidermis and dermis and of MDC, pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine (PARC), and thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) exclusively in the dermis started after 12 hours reaching maximum levels at 72 hours and was associated with infiltration of T cells into the epidermal compartment. Our data provide evidence that migrating effector cells encounter multiple chemoattractant signals in a complex spatial and temporal pattern. In particular, keratinocytes contribute to the vigorous immigration by sequential expression of MCP-1, RANTES, and interferon-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG), indicating that chemokine-mediated nonimmunological mechanisms precede and corroborate antigen-specific mechanisms during elicitation of contact hypersensitivity.

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