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The Journal of experimental medicine

CX₃CL1 (fractalkine) and its receptor CX₃CR1 regulate atopic dermatitis by controlling effector T cell retention in inflamed skin.


PMID 24821910

Abstract

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic allergic dermatosis characterized by epidermal thickening and dermal inflammatory infiltrates with a dominant Th2 profile during the acute phase, whereas a Th1 profile is characteristic of the chronic stage. Among chemokines and chemokine receptors associated with inflammation, increased levels of CX3CL1 (fractalkine) and its unique receptor, CX3CR1, have been observed in human AD. We have thus investigated their role and mechanism of action in experimental models of AD and psoriasis. AD pathology and immune responses, but not psoriasis, were profoundly decreased in CX3CR1-deficient mice and upon blocking CX3CL1-CX3CR1 interactions in wild-type mice. CX3CR1 deficiency affected neither antigen presentation nor T cell proliferation in vivo upon skin sensitization, but CX3CR1 expression by both Th2 and Th1 cells was required to induce AD. Surprisingly, unlike in allergic asthma, where CX3CL1 and CX3CR1 regulate the pathology by controlling effector CD4(+) T cell survival within inflamed tissues, adoptive transfer experiments established CX3CR1 as a key regulator of CD4(+) T cell retention in inflamed skin, indicating a new function for this chemokine receptor. Therefore, although CX3CR1 and CX3CL1 act through distinct mechanisms in different pathologies, our results further indicate their interest as promising therapeutic targets in allergic diseases.