T-cells in the cerebrospinal fluid express a similar repertoire of inflammatory chemokine receptors in the absence or presence of CNS inflammation: implications for CNS trafficking

Clin Exp Immunol. 2002 Sep;129(3):510-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.2002.01947.x.


It is believed that chemokines and their receptors are involved in trafficking of T-cells to the central nervous system (CNS). The aim of the current study was to define the expression on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) T-cells of six chemokine receptors associated with trafficking to sites of inflammation. Flow cytometry was used to detect chemokine receptor expression. We observed that CD3+T-cells in the CSF express a restricted array of inflammatory chemokine receptors, specifically CXCR3, CCR5 and CCR6, but little CCR1-3. This repertoire was independent of the presence of CNS inflammation, since comparable findings were obtained in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and individuals with non-inflammatory neurological diseases. The enrichment of CCR5+T-cells in the CSF could largely be explained by higher frequency of CD4+/CD45RO+T-cells in this compartment. In contrast, CD4+/CD45RO+T-cells expressing CXCR3 were significantly enriched in CSF as compared with blood. Similar levels of CCR6+/CD3+T-cells were observed in blood and CSF, while levels of CCR2+/CD3+T-cells were lower in CSF than in blood. The CSF was virtually devoid of CCR5+/CXCR3- T-cells, suggesting that the expression of CCR5 alone is not sufficient for the trafficking of CD3+T-cells to the CSF. We hypothesize that CXCR3 is the principal inflammatory chemokine receptor involved in intrathecal accumulation of T-cells in MS. Through interactions with its ligands, CXCR3 is proposed to mediate retention of T-cells in the inflamed CNS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD3 Complex / chemistry
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Central Nervous System / immunology
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases, CNS / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases, CNS / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism
  • Receptors, CXCR3
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • CD3 Complex
  • CXCR3 protein, human
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Receptors, CXCR3
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens