T cell homing to epithelial barriers in allergic disease

Nat Med. 2012 May 4;18(5):705-15. doi: 10.1038/nm.2760.


Allergic inflammation develops in tissues that have large epithelial surface areas that are exposed to the environment, such as the lung, skin and gut. In the steady state, antigen-experienced memory T cells patrol these peripheral tissues to facilitate swift immune responses against invading pathogens. In at least two allergy-prone organs, the skin and the gut, memory T cells are programmed during the initial antigen priming to express trafficking receptors that enable them to preferentially home to these organs. In this review we propose that tissue-specific memory and inflammation-specific T cell trafficking facilitates the development of allergic disease in these organs. We thus review recent advances in our understanding of tissue-specific T cell trafficking and how regulation of T cell trafficking by the chemokine system contributes to allergic inflammation in mouse models and in human allergic diseases of the skin, lung and gut. Inflammation- and tissue-specific T lymphocyte trafficking pathways are currently being targeted as new treatments for non-allergic inflammatory diseases and may yield effective new therapeutics for allergic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Cell Movement
  • Chemokines / physiology
  • Epithelium / immunology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Th2 Cells / physiology


  • Allergens
  • Chemokines