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PLoS Pathog. 2013;9(10):e1003706. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003706. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

CXCR3-dependent CD4⁺ T cells are required to activate inflammatory monocytes for defense against intestinal infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America.


Chemokines and their receptors play a critical role in orchestrating immunity to microbial pathogens, including the orally acquired Th1-inducing protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Chemokine receptor CXCR3 is associated with Th1 responses, and here we use bicistronic CXCR3-eGFP knock-in reporter mice to demonstrate upregulation of this chemokine receptor on CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ T lymphocytes during Toxoplasma infection. We show a critical role for CXCR3 in resistance to the parasite in the intestinal mucosa. Absence of the receptor in Cxcr3⁻/⁻ mice resulted in selective loss of ability to control T. gondii specifically in the lamina propria compartment. CD4⁺ T cells were impaired both in their recruitment to the intestinal lamina propria and in their ability to secrete IFN-γ upon stimulation. Local recruitment of CD11b⁺Ly6C/G⁺ inflammatory monocytes, recently reported to be major anti-Toxoplasma effectors in the intestine, was not impacted by loss of CXCR3. However, inflammatory monocyte activation status, as measured by dual production of TNF-α and IL-12, was severely impaired in Cxcr3⁻/⁻ mice. Strikingly, adoptive transfer of wild-type but not Ifnγ⁻/⁻ CD4⁺ T lymphocytes into Cxcr3⁻/⁻ animals prior to infection corrected the defect in inflammatory macrophage activation, simultaneously reversing the susceptibility phenotype of the knockout animals. Our results establish a central role for CXCR3 in coordinating innate and adaptive immunity, ensuring generation of Th1 effectors and their trafficking to the frontline of infection to program microbial killing by inflammatory monocytes.

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