Tissue-selective lymphocyte homing is directed in part by specialized vessels that define sites of lymphocyte exit from the blood. These vessels, the post capillary high endothelial venules (HEV), are found in organized lymphoid tissues, and at sites of chronic inflammation. Lymphocytes bearing specific receptors, called homing receptors, recognize and adhere to their putative ligands on high endothelial cells, the vascular addressins. After adhesion, lymphocytes enter organized lymphoid tissues by migrating through the endothelial cell wall. Cells and/or soluble factors arriving in lymph nodes by way of the afferent lymph supply have been implicated in the maintenance of HEV morphology and efficient lymphocyte homing. In the study reported here, we assessed the influence of afferent lymphatic vessel interruption on lymph node composition, organization of cellular elements; and on expression of vascular addressins. At 1 wk after occlusion of afferent lymphatic vessels, HEV became flat walled and expression of the peripheral lymph node addressin disappeared from the luminal aspect of most vessels, while being retained on the abluminal side. In addition, an HEV-specific differentiation marker, defined by mAb MECA-325, was undetectable at 7-d postocclusion. In vivo homing studies revealed that these modified vessels support minimal lymphocyte traffic from the blood. After occlusion, we observed dramatic changes in lymphocyte populations and at 7-d postsurgery, lymph nodes were populated predominantly by cells lacking the peripheral lymph node homing receptor LECAM-1. In addition, effects on nonlymphoid cells were observed: subcapsular sinus macrophages, defined by mAb MOMA-1, disappeared; and interdigitating dendritic cells, defined by mAb NLDC-145, were dramatically reduced. These data reveal that functioning afferent lymphatics are centrally involved in maintaining normal lymph node homeostasis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology