Date: 25 Mar 2009

T Cell Migration Dynamics Within Lymph Nodes During Steady State: An Overview of Extracellular and Intracellular Factors Influencing the Basal Intranodal T Cell Motility

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Naive T lymphocytes continuously recirculate through secondary lymphoid organs such as lymph nodes until they are eventually activated by recognizing cognate peptide/MHC-complexes on the surface of antigen-presenting cells. The intranodal T cell migration behavior leading to these crucial – and potentially rare – encounters during the induction of an adaptive immune response could not be directly addressed until, in 2002, the use of two-photon microscopy also allowed the visualization of cellular dynamics deep within intact lymph nodes. Since then, numerous studies have confirmed that, by default, naive T cells are extremely motile, scanning the paracortical T cell zone for cognate antigen by means of an apparent random walk. This review attempts to summarize the current knowledge of factors influencing the basal migration behavior of naive T lymphocytes within lymph nodes during steady state. Extracellular cues, such as the motility-promoting influence of CCR7 ligands and the role of integrins during interstitial migration, as well as intracellular signaling pathways involved in T cell motility, will be discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on structural features of the lymph node environment orchestrating T cell migration, namely the network of fibroblastic reticular cells serving as migration “highways.” Finally, new approaches to simulate the cellular dynamics within lymph nodes in silico by means of mathematical modeling will be reviewed.