To understand the selective accumulation of memory T helper lymphocytes and of macrophages in delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) granulomas, we studied the in situ production of RANTES, a chemokine initially characterized on the basis of its in vitro chemotactic properties for each of these cell populations. RANTES gene expression was studied by in situ hybridization in 15 human lymph nodes presenting typical DTH lesions related to either sarcoidosis or tuberculosis. A positive signal was detected in all cases. Labeling was specific for the DTH lesions, as very few if any positive cells were detected in the normal residual lymphoid tissue surrounding them or in reactive lymph nodes involved in a B lymphocyte response. RANTES gene expression was associated with the production of the protein, which was detected by immunochemistry in DTH lymph nodes. The morphological characteristics and distribution of positive cells in in situ hybridization and immunochemical experiments indicated that macrophages and endothelial cells, two cell populations not previously reported to produce RANTES, contributed to its production in DTH reactions. The ability of macrophages and endothelial cells to produce RANTES was confirmed by in vitro studies with alveolar macrophages and umbilical vein endothelial cells. In view of the chemotactic properties of RANTES for a limited range of cell populations, these results suggest that RANTES production in DTH granulomas may play a role in the selective accumulation of macrophages and memory T helper lymphocytes characterizing this type of cell-mediated immune reaction, and that macrophages and endothelial cells are involved in this production.

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