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T cells and the skin: from protective immunity to inflammatory skin disorders

Abstract

Skin is our primary interface with the environment, and T cells are crucial for orchestrating host immune responses against pathogenic microorganisms at this site. Effective skin immune responses require the generation of antigen-specific effector T cells, which home to cutaneous sites of injury or infection. Long-lasting immunity against future immune challenges is mediated by memory T cells. Among the memory T cells found in skin are both recirculating cells that transit between skin and blood and tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells, which remain in skin for long periods of time and mediate durable protective immunity. These TRM cells also appear to drive many inflammatory diseases of skin. Here, we consider how a better understanding of cutaneous T cell responses can aid in the development of effective new therapies for immune-mediated cutaneous diseases.

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Fig. 1: The structure of the skin contributes to its immune functions.
Fig. 2: The generation and maintenance of cutaneous tissue-resident memory T cells.
Fig. 3: T cells in the pathogenesis of psoriasis.

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Acknowledgements

A.W.H. is supported by a Career Development Award from the Dermatology Foundation. T.S.K. is supported by grants R01 AR065807, R01 AI127654 and R01 CA210372 from the US National Institutes of Health.

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Nature Reviews Immunology thanks P. Scott and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Ho, A.W., Kupper, T.S. T cells and the skin: from protective immunity to inflammatory skin disorders. Nat Rev Immunol 19, 490–502 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-019-0162-3

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