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J Immunol. 2010 Dec 1;185(11):6646-63. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0904156. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

CCR2 identifies a stable population of human effector memory CD4+ T cells equipped for rapid recall response.

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Inflammation Biology Section, Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Because T cells act primarily through short-distance interactions, homing receptors can identify colocalizing cells that serve common functions. Expression patterns for multiple chemokine receptors on CD4(+) T cells from human blood suggested a hierarchy of receptors that are induced and accumulate during effector/memory cell differentiation. We characterized CD4(+)CD45RO(+) T cells based on expression of two of these receptors, CCR5 and CCR2, the principal subsets being CCR5(-)CCR2(-) (∼70%), CCR5(+)CCR2(-) (∼25%), and CCR5(+)CCR2(+) (∼5%). Relationships among expression of CCR5 and CCR2 and CD62L, and the subsets' proliferation histories, suggested a pathway of progressive effector/memory differentiation from the CCR5(-)CCR2(-) to CCR5(+)CCR2(-) to CCR5(+)CCR2(+) cells. Sensitivity and rapidity of TCR-mediated activation, TCR signaling, and effector cytokine production by the subsets were consistent with such a pathway. The subsets also showed increasing responsiveness to IL-7, and the CCR5(+)CCR2(+) cells were CD127(bright) and invariably showed the greatest response to tetanus toxoid. CCR5(+)CCR2(+) cells also expressed the largest repertoire of chemokine receptors and migrated to the greatest number of chemokines. By contrast, the CCR5(+)CCR2(-) cells had the greatest percentages of regulatory T cells, activated/cycling cells, and CMV-reactive cells, and were most susceptible to apoptosis. Our results indicate that increasing memory cell differentiation can be uncoupled from susceptibility to death, and is associated with an increase in chemokine responsiveness, suggesting that vaccination (or infection) can produce a stable population of effector-capable memory cells that are highly enriched in the CCR5(+)CCR2(+) subset and ideally equipped for rapid recall responses in tissue.

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