Seminars in Immunopathology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 257–274 | Cite as

Cell-autonomous and environmental contributions to the interstitial migration of T cells



A key to understanding the functioning of the immune system is to define the mechanisms that facilitate directed lymphocyte migration to and within tissues. The recent development of improved imaging technologies, most prominently multi-photon microscopy, has enabled the dynamic visualization of immune cells in real-time directly within intact tissues. Intravital imaging approaches have revealed high spontaneous migratory activity of T cells in secondary lymphoid organs and inflamed tissues. Experimental evidence points towards both environmental and cell-intrinsic cues involved in the regulation of lymphocyte motility in the interstitial space. Based on these data, several conceptually distinct models have been proposed in order to explain the coordination of lymphocyte migration both at the single cell and population level. These range from “stochastic” models, where chance is the major driving force, to “deterministic” models, where the architecture of the microenvironment dictates the migratory trajectory of cells. In this review, we focus on recent advances in understanding naïve and effector T cell migration in vivo. In addition, we discuss some of the contradictory experimental findings in the context of theoretical models of migrating leukocytes.


Imaging Migration Lymphocytes Tumor immunology 



We thank Drs. Ichiko Kinjyo, Sioh-Yang Tan, Lois Cavanagh, Ben Roediger, Nital Sumaria, and Saparna Pai for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the NHMRC and the New South Wales Cancer Institute. P.M. is recipient of the Career Development and Support Fellowship, Cancer Institute, New South Wales.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Centenary InstituteNewtownAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of DermatologyUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  3. 3.Complex Systems in Biology Group, Centre for Vascular ResearchUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  4. 4.Department of DermatologyRoyal Prince Alfred HospitalCamperdownAustralia

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