Differential homing commitments of antigen-specific T cells after oral or parenteral immunization in humans

Academic Article


  • Animal experiments show that lymphocytes activated in the intestine circulate through mesenteric lymph nodes, lymphatics, and blood, returning to the gut. Homing into intestinal lamina propria is mediated by lymphocyte surface homing receptors, mainly the α4β7-integrin. We studied in humans whether intestinal T cells entering the blood upon antigenic activation would exhibit homing commitments to the gut. Volunteers were immunized with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) first orally and then parenterally or only parenterally, and the expression of α4β7 on T cells specific for KLH or tetanus toxoid was studied. Circulating T cells were depleted of α4β7+ cells by immunomagnetic selection. This depletion removed a significant proportion of the KLH-specific cells (mean decrease in proliferative response of 71%) in the orally immunized volunteers. No difference in the KLH-induced proliferation was found between the total and the α4β7-depleted populations in volunteers parenterally immunized with KLH, regardless of whether a preceding mucosal priming had taken place or not. In both immunization groups, the depletion of α4β7+ cells had no influence on the proliferative response to tetanus toxoid. We conclude that, in contrast to T cells activated by parenteral immunization, gut-derived T cells have preferential homing commitments to the gut. This commitment was no longer observed after a subsequent parenteral Ag administration. Besides showing that the site of Ag encounter determines the expression of homing receptors, the present study is the first to provide evidence for a circulation of newly activated Ag-specific intestinal T cells back to the gut in humans.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Kantele A; Zivny J; Häkkinen M; Elson CO; Mestecky J
  • Start Page

  • 5173
  • End Page

  • 5177
  • Volume

  • 162
  • Issue

  • 9