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Abstract

Lymphocyte recruitment to tissue is regulated by homing molecules expressed on subsets of leukocytes that bind to endothelial adhesion molecules termed addressins in target tissues. The addressins and homing molecules involved in recruiting lymphocytes to inflamed human liver are not known. E-selectin, which acts as an addressin for a subset of skin-infiltrating T cells that express a distinct E-selectin ligand called the cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA), can be detected on endothelium in inflammatory liver diseases suggesting it might also act as an addressin for liver-infiltrating lymphocytes. To determine whether E-selectin does play such a role we looked for concomitant expression of E-selectin on hepatic endothelium and E-selectin ligands on infiltrating lymphocytes in liver sections from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), acute allograft rejection, alcoholic liver disease, and normal liver. E-selectin was detected on vascular endothelium in association with lymphocytic infiltrates in all three liver diseases but not on normal endothelium. However, less that 10% of infiltrating lymphocytes expressed the only known lymphocyte E-selectin ligand, CLA. We used E-selectin chimeric fusion proteins to probe for novel E-selectin ligands on liver-infiltrating lymphocytes; however, less than 10% of lymphocytes had t he ability to bind the fusion proteins. Thus, E-selectin is unlikely to act as an addressin for liver-infiltrating lymphocytes, suggesting that other molecules are involved in lymphocyte recruitment to the liver. Despite the lack of binding to lymphocytes other structures in the liver expressed CLA and bound the E-selectin fusion proteins. Inflamed, but not normal, intrahepatic bile ducts expressed CLA and bound E-selectin, suggesting that they express activation dependent carbohydrate binding receptors. Furthermore, Kupffer cells did not express CLA but bound to both E-selectin fusion proteins, suggesting that they express potentially novel E-selectin ligands.