Letter | Published:

Activation-independent binding of human memory T cells to adhesion molecule ELAM-1

Abstract

THE induction of an ensemble of adhesion molecules on endothelial cells by inflammatory cytokines is likely to be crucial to the differential migration of T-lymphocyte subsets into inflammatory sites. Two molecular pathways involving the VLA-4 and LFA-1 integrins are known to mediate T-cell adhesion to activated endothelium1–4. Here we show that a third pathway involving the rapidly inducible endothelial cell-surface adhesion molecule ELAM-1 (refs 5,6) contributes to the binding of resting CD4+ T cells to IL-1 -induced human endothelial cells. All three pathways contribute to the greater adhesion to endothelium of memory T cells than naive T cells. There are two unique features of T-cell adhesion to purified ELAM-1: first, ELAM-1 exclusively mediates adhesion of memory T cells; second, memory T-cell binding to ELAM-1 is independent of acute activation events that regulate integrin-mediated adhesion 7,8. Thus, ELAM-1 may be of primary importance in the initial attachment of memory T cells to inflamed endothelium in vivo and to the preferential migration of memory T cells into tissue and inflammatory sites.

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