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J Exp Med. 2004 Apr 19;199(8):1113-20.

CXCL12 mediates CCR7-independent homing of central memory cells, but not naive T cells, in peripheral lymph nodes.

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The CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, 200 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Central memory CD8(+) T cells (T(CM)) confer superior protective immunity against infections compared with other T cell subsets. T(CM) recirculate mainly through secondary lymphoid organs, including peripheral lymph nodes (PLNs). Here, we report that T(CM), unlike naive T cells, can home to PLNs in both a CCR7-dependent and -independent manner. Homing experiments in paucity of lymph node T cells (plt/plt) mice, which do not express CCR7 ligands in secondary lymphoid organs, revealed that T(CM) migrate to PLNs at approximately 20% of wild-type (WT) levels, whereas homing of naive T cells was reduced by 95%. Accordingly, a large fraction of endogenous CD8(+) T cells in plt/plt PLNs displayed a T(CM) phenotype. Intravital microscopy of plt/plt subiliac lymph nodes showed that T(CM) rolled and firmly adhered (sticking) in high endothelial venules (HEVs), whereas naive T cells were incapable of sticking. Sticking of T(CM) in plt/plt HEVs was pertussis toxin sensitive and was blocked by anti-CXCL12 (SDF-1alpha). Anti-CXCL12 also reduced homing of T(CM) to PLNs in WT animals by 20%, indicating a nonredundant role for this chemokine in the presence of physiologic CCR7 agonists. Together, these data distinguish naive T cells from T(CM), whereby only the latter display greater migratory flexibility by virtue of their increased responsiveness to both CCR7 ligands and CXCL12 during homing to PLN.

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