Binding of L-selectin expressed on lymphocytes to carbohydrate ligand(s) on lymph node high endothelial venules is thought to initiate lymphocyte extravasation from blood to lymph during recirculation and localization to sites of antigen (Ag) exposure. Previous studies have shown that treatment of lymphocytes with antibody to L-selectin (MEL-14) ablates trafficking to peripheral lymph nodes (PLN). In mice, naive but not memory CD4 cells express L-selectin. To examine the role of L-selectin in helper T cell migration, we studied the effects of in vivo administration of MEL-14 on CD4 cell responses. Systemic exposure of mice to MEL-14 depleted CD4 cells expressing a naive phenotype (CD45RBhi, CD44lo) from PLN but not from spleen. The majority of residual lymph node CD4 cells exhibited the reciprocal, memory phenotype (CD45RBlo, CD44hi). MEL-14 treatment prevented priming of naive CD4 cells for proliferation and cytokine production (IL-2 and IL-4) to keyhole limpet hemocyanin in PLN draining the site of Ag injection, but not in the spleen. The results suggest that naive cells were not depleted, but rather diverted to other sites where priming occurred. The data demonstrate that L-selectin mediates extravasation of naive CD4 cells into PLN and that its function cannot be replaced by other homing receptors.

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