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

Nature Reviews Immunology (2019) | Download Citation


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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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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  1. Department of Dermatology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    • Allen W. Ho
    •  & Thomas S. Kupper


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