Lymph Node T Cell Homeostasis Relies on Steady State Homing of Dendritic Cells

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Little is known about mechanisms determining the homeostasis of lymphocytes within lymphoid organs. Applying different mouse models, including conditionally proficient Ccr7 gene-targeted mice, we now show that semimature steady state dendritic cells (sDCs) constitutively trafficking into lymph nodes (LNs) were essential contributors to T cell homeostasis in these organs. sDCs provided vascular endothelial growth factor known to support high endothelial venule formation, thus facilitating enhanced homing of T cells to LNs. The presence of sDCs led to increased CCL21 production in T-zone fibroblastic reticular cells. CCL21 is a ligand for CCR7 known to regulate homing as well as retention of T cells in LNs. In addition, we provide evidence that CCL21 binds to the surface of DCs via its heparin-binding domain, further explaining why T cells leave LNs more rapidly in the absence of sDCs. Together, these data reveal multiple roles for sDCs in regulating T cell homeostasis in LNs.

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