Airway-specific recruitment of T cells is reduced in a CD26-deficient F344 rat substrain


S. von Hörsten, Experimental Therapy, Franz-Penzoldt-Center, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Palmsanlage 5, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the airways. Increased levels of T cells are found in the lungs after the induction of an allergic-like inflammation in rats, and flow cytometry studies have shown that these levels are reduced in CD26-deficient rats. However, the precise anatomical sites where these newly recruited T cells appear primarily are unknown. Therefore, we quantified the distribution of T cells in lung parenchyma as well as in large, medium and small airways using immunohistochemical stainings combined with morphometric analyses. The number of T cells increased after the induction of an allergic-like inflammation. However, the differences between CD26-deficient and wild-type rats were not attributable to different cell numbers in the lung parenchyma, but the medium- and large-sized bronchi revealed significantly fewer T cells in CD26-deficient rats. These sites of T cell recruitment were screened further using immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction with regard to two hypotheses: (i) involvement of the nervous system or (ii) expression of chemokines with properties of a T cell attractor. No topographical association was found between nerves and T cells, but a differential transcription of chemokines was revealed in bronchi and parenchyma. Thus, the site-specific recruitment of T cells appears to be a process mediated by chemokines rather than nerve–T cell interactions. In conclusion, this is the first report showing a differential site-specific recruitment of T cells to the bronchi in a CD26-deficient rat substrain during an asthma-like inflammation.