Chemokine-mediated control of T cell traffic in lymphoid and peripheral tissues

Mol Immunol. 2005 May;42(7):799-809. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2004.06.040. Epub 2004 Nov 23.


Antigen-driven T cell education and subsequent pathogen elimination present particular challenges for the immune system. Pathogens generally enter the body at peripheral sites such as the skin, gastrointestinal tract or lung, areas from which naïve T cells are largely excluded. Instead, naïve T cells constantly recirculate through secondary lymphoid organs, such as lymph nodes and Peyer's patches, in search for antigen brought to these locations by means of afferent lymphatic channels. Here, antigen-loaded dendritic cells present antigen-peptide-MHC complexes to clonotypic T cells and provide appropriate co-stimulatory signals for immune response initiation. As a result, short-lived effector T cells and long-lived memory T cells are generated that reach the peripheral tissue for participation in immune responses and immune surveillance. Effector and memory T cell relocation is non-random, due to tissue-specific "address codes" that allow proper tissue homing. This process involves adhesion molecules, including selectins, integrins, and corresponding vascular ligands as well as the large family of chemokines and their receptors. Here, we discuss the changes in chemokine receptor expression that occur during T cell activation and differentiation, and the ways in which these changes impact on the migration potential of naïve, effector, and memory T cells. We summarize our current understanding of T cell homing to the T zone and B cell follicles within secondary lymphoid tissues and highlight the two chemokine receptors CCR7 and CXCR5 that recognize chemokines constitutively present either in the T zone (CCR7 ligands CCL19/ELC and CCL21/SLC) or follicular compartment (CXCR5 ligand CXCL13/BCA-1). CCR7 is characteristic for naive and central memory T (T(CM)) cells whereas CXCR5 distinguishes follicular B helper T (T(FH)) cells. In addition, we further subdivide long-lived memory T cells into CCR7-negative effector memory T (T(EM)) cells and peripheral immune surveillance T (T(PS)) cells. The latter term designates the extraordinarily large subset of memory T cells with primary residence in normal (healthy) peripheral tissues. Our current understanding of T(PS) cell migration and function is highly fragmentary, but these cells are thought to provide immediate protection locally at the site of pathogen entry. Here, we propose that the tissue distribution of T(PS) cells is determined by a distinct set of chemokines and corresponding receptors that differs from those operating in secondary lymphoid tissues and inflammatory sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Chemokines / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Immunologic Surveillance
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Receptors, CCR7
  • Receptors, CXCR5
  • Receptors, Chemokine / immunology
  • Receptors, Cytokine / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • CCR7 protein, human
  • CXCR5 protein, human
  • Chemokines
  • Receptors, CCR7
  • Receptors, CXCR5
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Receptors, Cytokine