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J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Nov;121(5):1045-52.

Chemokine receptor expression on neoplastic and reactive T cells in the skin at different stages of mycosis fungoides.

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Molecular Immunology, Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin, Germany.


We analyzed the expression of 13 chemokine receptors in mycosis fungoides, in order to assess the contribution of chemotaxis to the pathogenesis of the disease. Material from skin biopsies of six patients with early disease and six patients at the tumor stage of mycosis fungoides was analyzed by immunohistochemistry and partly also by flow cytometry. The receptors CCR1, CCR2, CCR3, CCR5, CCR6, CXCR1, CXCR2, CXCR5, and CX3CR1 were rarely and inconsistently detected in lesional skin and thus their participation in mycosis fungoides could largely be ruled out. In contrast, CCR4, CXCR3, and CXCR4 were substantially expressed on both mycosis fungoides cells and the surrounding reactive T cells in the early patch and plaque stages of the disease, indicating an involvement of these chemokine receptors in the disease process. In the tumor stage of mycosis fungoides, we interestingly observed a loss of a relevant chemokine receptor in four out of six patients. In three patients CXCR3 and in one patient CCR4 was absent on tumor mycosis fungoides cells, whereas the reactive T cells showed normal levels of expression. Within these samples, tumor mycosis fungoides cells exhibited high levels of CCR7, a chemokine receptor central for the entry of T cells to lymphatic tissue. Taken together, our data suggest that the loss of one or more of the chemokine receptors involved in the homing of the mycosis fungoides cells to the skin may trigger the latent potential of these cells to metastasize into regional lymphatic tissue.

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