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J Immunol. 2006 Apr 1;176(7):4431-9.

The vast majority of CLA+ T cells are resident in normal skin.

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Department of Dermatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Skin Disease Research Center, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


There are T cells within normal, noninflamed skin that most likely conduct immunosurveillance and are implicated in the development of psoriasis. We isolated T cells from normal human skin using both established and novel methods. Skin resident T cells expressed high levels of CLA, CCR4, and CCR6, and a subset expressed CCR8 and CXCR6. Skin T cells had a remarkably diverse TCR repertoire and were mostly Th1 memory effector cells with smaller subsets of central memory, Th2, and functional T regulatory cells. We isolated a surprising number of nonexpanded T cells from normal skin. To validate this finding, we counted T cells in sections of normal skin and determined that there are approximately 1 x 10(6) T cells/cm(2) normal skin and an estimated 2 x 10(10) T cells in the entire skin surface, nearly twice the number of T cells in the circulation. Moreover, we estimate that 98% of CLA(+) effector memory T cells are resident in normal skin under resting conditions. These findings demonstrate that there is a large pool of memory T cells in normal skin that can initiate and perpetuate immune reactions in the absence of T cell recruitment from the blood.

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