Leukocytes extravasate from the blood in response to physiologic or pathologic demands by means of complementary ligand interactions between leukocytes and endothelial cells. The multistep model of leukocyte extravasation involves an initial transient interaction ('rolling' adhesion), followed by secondary (firm) adhesion. We recently showed that binding of CD44 on activated T lymphocytes to endothelial hyaluronan (HA) mediates a primary adhesive interaction under shear stress, permitting extravasation at sites of inflammation. The mechanism for subsequent firm adhesion has not been elucidated. Here we demonstrate that the integrin VLA-4 is used in secondary adhesion after CD44-mediated primary adhesion of human and mouse T cells in vitro, and by mouse T cells in an in vivo model. We show that clonal cell lines and polyclonally activated normal T cells roll under physiologic shear forces on hyaluronate and require VCAM-1, but not ICAM-1, as ligand for subsequent firm adhesion. This firm adhesion is also VLA-4 dependent, as shown by antibody inhibition. Moreover, in vivo short-term homing experiments in a model dependent on CD44 and HA demonstrate that superantigen-activated T cells require VLA-4, but not LFA-1, for entry into an inflamed peritoneal site. Thus, extravasation of activated T cells initiated by CD44 binding to HA depends upon VLA4-mediated firm adhesion, which may explain the frequent association of these adhesion receptors with diverse chronic inflammatory processes.
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