Unique ability of activated CD4+ T cells but not rested effectors to migrate to non-lymphoid sites in the absence of inflammation

Javed N. Agrewala, Deborah M. Brown, Nancy M. Lepak, Debra Duso, Gail Huston, Susan L. Swain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Recent studies suggest that effector T cells generated by immune responses migrate to multiple non-lymphoid sites, even those without apparent expression of antigen or inflammation. To investigate the ability of distinct CD4 + T lymphocyte subsets to enter and persist in non-lymphoid, noninflamed compartments, we examined the migration and persistence of naïve, effector, and rested effector CD4+ T cells generated in vitro following transfer to nonimmunized adoptive hosts. Th1 and Th2 effectors migrated to both lymphoid and non-lymphoid organs (peritoneum, fat pads, and lung). In contrast, rested effectors and naïve cells migrated only to lymphoid areas. Adhesion molecule expression, but not chemokine receptor expression, correlated with the ability to enter non-lymphoid sites. Donor cells persisted longer in lymphoid than in non-lymphoid sites. When hosts with naïve and memory donor cells were challenged with antigen, effectors developed in situ, which also migrated to non-lymphoid sites. Memory cells showed an accelerated shift to non-lymphoid migration, in keeping with memory effector formation. These results suggest that only recently activated effector T cells can disperse to non-lymphoid sites in the absence of antigen and inflammation, and as effectors return to rest, they lose this ability. These data also argue that memory cells in lymphoid sites are longer lived and not in equilibrium with those in non-lymphoid sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6106-6115
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 2 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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