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An immune paradox: How can the same chemokine axis regulate both immune tolerance and activation?

CCR6/CCL20: A chemokine axis balancing immunological tolerance and inflammation in autoimmune disease

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Abstract

Chemokines (chemotactic cytokines) drive and direct leukocyte traffic. New evidence suggests that the unusual CCR6/CCL20 chemokine receptor/ligand axis provides key homing signals for recently identified cells of the adaptive immune system, recruiting both pro-inflammatory and suppressive T cell subsets. Thus CCR6 and CCL20 have been recently implicated in various human pathologies, particularly in autoimmune disease. These studies have revealed that targeting CCR6/CCL20 can enhance or inhibit autoimmune disease depending on the cellular basis of pathogenesis and the cell subtype most affected through different CCR6/CCL20 manipulations. Here, we discuss the significance of this chemokine receptor/ligand axis in immune and inflammatory functions, consider the potential for targeting CCR6/CCL20 in human autoimmunity and propose that the shared evolutionary origins of pro-inflammatory and regulatory T cells may contribute to the reason why both immune activation and regulation might be controlled through the same chemokine pathway.

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