High endothelial venule morphology and function are inducible in germ-free mice: a possible role for interferon-gamma

Cell Immunol. 1988 Nov;117(1):136-51. doi: 10.1016/0008-8749(88)90083-4.


Cytokines may facilitate lymphocyte traffic by modulating HEV structure and lymphocyte binding function in accordance with local tissue requirements. This study investigated whether the morphology of HEVs and their lymphocyte binding ligand are altered following antigenic challenge and evaluated the role of IFN-gamma in the induction of such changes. The morphology and lymphocyte binding function of mesenteric LN HEVs of GFM exposed to environmental pathogens were compared to those from GFM and conventional mice. Lymph nodes from all mice had microscopically identifiable HEVs. The morphology of HEVs from GFM was not uniform; many HEVs contained flat endothelial cells with sparse cytoplasm and prominent interendothelial gaps. The number of lymphocytes within the lumen and the HEV wall was low. In contrast, HEVs from GFME and conventional mice were characterized by cuboidal endothelial cells with plentiful cytoplasm and large numbers of lymphocytes in the vessel wall and lumen. There was no delineation of interendothelial cell borders. Lymphocyte binding to HEVs of lymph node sections from GFM was reduced (mean +/- SEM: 1.08 +/- 0.15) compared to that of conventional mice (1.91 +/- 0.20), P less than 0.003. GFME had augmented lymphocyte binding (2.23 +/- 0.26) to levels comparable with those of conventional mice. GFM injected intraperitoneally with IFN-gamma, IFN-alpha beta, or diluent resulted in minor changes in HEV morphology. By contrast, lymphocyte binding to HEV of GFM was more than doubled by the injection of IFN-gamma (1.95 +/- 0.25), P less than 0.01, but not IFN-alpha beta (0.54 +/- 0.07) or the relevant diluent controls (0.89 +/- 0.11, 0.56 +/- 0.06, respectively). It appears that the HEV binding ligand is inducible, and its expression is regulated by at least one immunomodulator, IFN-gamma. Although short-term exposure of HEVs to IFN-gamma influenced HEV function it caused only minor changes in morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Germ-Free Life*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / analysis
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology*
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma