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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Nov;100(5):694-701.

Nonspecific T-cell homing during inflammation in atopic dermatitis: expression of cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen and integrin alphaE beta7 on skin-infiltrating T cells.

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Department of Dermatology-Allergology, University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic skin disorder, characterized by infiltration of activated memory CD4+ T cells into skin. A model to study the onset of allergic inflammation in a patient with AD is the atopy patch test (APT), in which, by epicutaneous application of aeroallergen, an eczematous reaction is induced in 50% of sensitized patients with AD. Extravasation of T cells into skin is thought to be critically dependent on expression of the surface molecule cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen (CLA), which recognizes and binds its ligand E-selectin on endothelium. We studied the dynamics of expression of CLA and the gut homing receptor alphaE beta7 (HML-1) on T cells in the skin of patients with AD and in APT reactions and nickel and sodium lauryl sulfate patch test reactions by means of immunohistochemical double staining of skin biopsy specimens. The results show an increase in the number of CD3+ T cells in the lesional skin of patients with AD, APT reactions, and nickel and sodium lauryl sulfate patch test reactions as compared with nonlesional skin of the same patients and nonatopic individuals. In contrast, the percentages of CLA+ T cells in the lesional skin of patients with AD, in the APT reactions, and in sodium lauryl sulfate and nickel patch test reactions were decreased. In addition, we found a marked expression of alphaE beta7 by T cells present in skin, indicating a nonspecific influx of T cells during allergic skin inflammation. We propose that during allergic skin inflammation CLA expression is not a prerequisite for cutaneous T-cell infiltration. CLA expression may be important for T cells to extravasate from blood into skin during immune surveillance or for retention of allergen-specific T cells in skin.

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