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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Age-related changes in CCR9+ circulating lymphocytes: are CCR9+ naive T cells recent thymic emigrants?

The chemokine receptor CCR9 is reported to be predominantly expressed by thymocytes as well as by circulating gut-homing and resident T cells in the small intestinal mucosa. Its ligand thymus-expressed chemokine (TECK) is produced by thymic and small intestinal epithelium. Here we report that the proportion of circulating CCR9+ naive T cells (mostly CD4+) declines with age, from approximately 15% of all T cells at birth to around 1% in adults. The proportion of CCR9+ T cells lacking the classical gut-homing receptor alpha4beta7, was much higher in children than in adults. Therefore, circulating CD3+CCR9+CD45RA+ cells have most likely left the thymus quite recently. This notion was supported by the small number of CCR9+ naive T cells which was present shortly after thymectomy. Establishing a phenotypic marker for recent thymic emigrants might provide a powerful tool in the clinical assessment and follow-up after cancer chemotherapy, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, and during antiretroviral treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients.[1]


  1. Age-related changes in CCR9+ circulating lymphocytes: are CCR9+ naive T cells recent thymic emigrants? Olaussen, R.W., Farstad, I.N., Brandtzaeg, P., Rugtveit, J. Scand. J. Immunol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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