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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • bronchi;
  • CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase 4;
  • F344 rat substrains;
  • T cells

Summary

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.