Distribution of lymphocytes and adhesion molecules in human cervix and vagina

Authors


Eva-Liz Johansson Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Göteborg University, Guldhedsgatan 10A, S-413 46 Göteborg, Sweden.

Abstract

Knowledge of the histological distribution of leucocytes and adhesion molecules in the human genital tract is scarce although local immunity in this region is important. Using immunohistochemical methods, we here describe the organization of CD3+, CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, CD19+ B cells, CD38+ plasma cells, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II+ antigen-presenting cells and CD14+ monocytes, as well as the expression of endothelial addressins in normal human ecto-cervical and vaginal mucosa. T cells were clustered in a distinct band beneath the epithelium and were also dispersed in the epithelium and the lamina propria, whereas CD38+ plasma cells were present only in the lamina propria. MHC class II+ cells were numerous in the lamina propria and in the epithelium, where they morphologically resembled dendritic cells. Lymphoid aggregates containing CD19+ and CD20+ B cells as well as CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ cells were also found in the cervix. The mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1 (MAdCAM-1) was not expressed on the vascular endothelium in the cervical or vaginal mucosa. In contrast, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), vascular adhesion protein-1 (VAP-1) and P-selectin were expressed in all tissue samples, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and E-selectin were found in four of seven samples. We conclude that the distribution of leucocytes and adhesion molecules is very similar in the ecto-cervical and the vaginal mucosa and that the regulation of lymphocyte homing to the genital tract is different from that seen in the intestine. Our results also clearly suggest that the leucocytes are not randomly scattered in the tissue but organized in a distinct pattern.

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