A role for the alpha 4-integrin (alpha 4 beta 1 or alpha 4 beta 7), has been implicated in the recruitment of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to sites of inflammation. However, the adhesive interactions (i.e., tethering, rolling, and adhesion) mediated by the alpha 4-integrin have not been characterized in vivo. The objective of this study was to establish a model wherein postcapillary venules were chronically inflamed, and then use intravital microscopy to identify the adhesive interactions mediated by the alpha 4-integrin in vivo. Between 4 and 20 d after immunization with Mycobacterium butyricum, animals developed a systemic vasculitis characterized by large increases in the numbers of rolling and adhering leukocytes within mesenteric venules. The selectins could only account for approximately 50% of the leukocyte rolling whereas the remaining cells rolled exclusively via the alpha 4-integrin. Anti-alpha 4 therapy also eliminated the increase in leukocyte adhesion observed in this model, whereas selectin therapies and an anti-CD18 (beta 2-integrin) monoclonal antibody (mAb) did not reduce adhesion. A serum against polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) was used to confirm that a significant proportion of rolling cells, and most of the adhering cells were PBMCs. Sequential treatment with anti-PMN serum and the anti-alpha 4 mAb demonstrated that alpha 4-dependent rolling was distinct from PMN rolling populations. Initial leukocyte tethering via the alpha 4-integrin could not be demonstrated in this model, whereas L-selectin did support leukocyte tethering. These data suggest that the alpha 4-integrin can mediate both rolling and adhesion in the multistep recruitment of PMBCs in vivo, and these interactions occur independently of the selectins and beta 2-integrins.

This content is only available as a PDF.