Stromal cells confer lymph node-specific properties by shaping a unique microenvironment influencing local immune responses
Ahrendt, M.; Hammerschmidt, S.I.; Pabst, O.; Pabst, R.; Bode, U.
Journal of Immunology 181(3): 1898-1907
ISSN/ISBN: 1550-6606 PMID: 18641327 DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.181.3.1898
Lymph nodes (LN) consist not only of highly motile immune cells coming from the draining area or from the systemic circulation, but also of resident stromal cells building the backbone of the LN. These two cell types form a unique microenvironment which is important for initiating an optimal immune response. The present study asked how the unique microenvironment of the mesenteric lymph node (mLN) is influenced by highly motile cells and/or by the stromal cells. A transplantation model in rats and mice was established. After resecting the mLN, fragments of peripheral lymph node (pLN) or mLN were inserted into the mesentery. The pLN and mLN have LN-specific properties, resulting in differences of, for example, the CD103(+) dendritic cell subset, the adhesion molecule mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule 1, the chemokine receptor CCR9, the cytokine IL-4, and the enzyme retinal dehydrogenase 2. This new model clearly showed that during regeneration stromal cells survived and immune cells were replaced. Surviving high endothelial venules retained their site-specific expression (mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule 1). In addition, the low expression of retinal dehydrogenase 2 and CCR9 persisted in the transplanted pLN, suggesting that stromal cells influence the lymph node-specific properties. To examine the functional relevance of this different expression pattern in transplanted animals, an immune response against orally applied cholera toxin was initiated. The data showed that the IgA response against cholera toxin is significantly diminished in animals transplanted with pLN. This model documents that stromal cells of the LN are active players in shaping a unique microenvironment and influencing immune responses in the drained area.