Aims—To analyse the topographical distribution of adhesion molecules involved in lymphocyte recirculation in human lymph nodes and tonsils. The study focused on the expression of LECAM-1 (CD62L), VLA-α4 (CD49d), VLA-β1 (CD29), LFA-1 αL (CD11a), LFA-β2 (CD18), VCAM-1 (CD106), ICAM-1 (CD54), and H-CAM (CD44).
Methods—Reactive lymph nodes and palatine tonsils were studied using immunofluorescence methods with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) labelled monoclonal antibodies directed against cell adhesion molecules. To investigate the expression patterns of these molecules in the T and B cell populations, double labelling experiments were performed using Texas Red labelled antibodies against CD2 or CD19, respectively. The images from each fluorochrome were then simultaneously analysed using a laser scanning confocal microscope.
Results—LECAM-1, VLA-α4 and H-CAM were predominantly expressed by mantle zone B cells, VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 by germinal centre cells, most of which exhibited a reticular staining pattern suggestive of follicular dendritic cells, whereas LFA-1 αL and LFA-β2 were mainly found in extrafollicular and germinal centre T cells. All high endothelial venules expressed VLA-β1 and ICAM-1, whereas VCAM-1 was present in only a few, with variable intensity.
Conclusions—The data show that all of these adhesion molecules are differentially distributed within the distinct functional microenvironments of both organs. The differences observed in the expression patterns among the B and T cells belonging to different compartments probably depend on the momentum of cell traffic, the stage of maturation/activation, as well as on their functional role in the immune response.
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