Background: The concept of the polarization of chemokine receptor expression by T(H)1 and T(H)2 cells provides an attractive mechanism for their differential recruitment to tissue, which could be subject to disease-specific therapeutic intervention. The paradigm that T(H)1 cells preferentially express CXCR 3 and CCR 5 and T(H)2 cells preferentially express CCR 3, CCR 4, and CCR 8 has been well established in the setting of in vitro polarized cell lines; however, the situation in vivo appears less clear-cut.
Objective: We sought to investigate whether this pattern of polarization can be demonstrated in human lung tissue.
Methods: We used single-cell analysis to investigate the relationship between chemokine receptor expression and cytokine production on peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid T cells in patients with asthma, a putative T(H)2 disease, as well as in healthy control subjects.
Results: We have found in both asthmatic and control subjects that IL-4-expressing blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid T cells are significantly more likely to express the T(H)2 type 2 chemokine receptors CCR 3 and CCR 4, with 10-fold and 2-fold differences in expression, respectively, compared with IFN-gamma-expressing cells.
Conclusion: We have provided evidence that polarization of T(H)2-type chemokine receptors on IL-4-expressing cells can be demonstrated in an in vivo setting and therefore that these cells might indeed be susceptible to differential patterns of recruitment as a result of expression of the relevant chemokines at inflammatory sites.