Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Rev Immunol. 2016 Mar;16(3):193-201. doi: 10.1038/nri.2015.16. Epub 2016 Feb 8.

T cell migration, search strategies and mechanisms.

Author information

Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) Movement Ecology Laboratory, Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), 17300 Girona, Spain; and at the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain.


T cell migration is essential for T cell responses; it allows for the detection of cognate antigen at the surface of antigen-presenting cells and for interactions with other cells involved in the immune response. Although appearing random, growing evidence suggests that T cell motility patterns are strategic and governed by mechanisms that are optimized for both the activation stage of the cell and for environment-specific cues. In this Opinion article, we discuss how the combined effects of T cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic forces influence T cell motility patterns in the context of highly complex tissues that are filled with other cells involved in parallel motility. In particular, we examine how insights from 'search theory' can be used to describe T cell movement across an 'exploitation-exploration trade-off' in the context of activation versus effector function and lymph nodes versus peripheral tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center