Chemokines are small proteins that promote leukocyte migration during development, infection, and inflammation. We and others isolated the unique chemokine CCL21, a potent chemo-attractant for naïve T-cells, naïve B-cells, and immature dendritic cells. CCL21 has a 37 amino acid carboxy terminal extension that is distinct from the rest of the chemokine family, which is thought to anchor it to venule endothelium where the amino terminus can interact with its cognate receptor, CCR7. We and others have reported that venule endothelium expressing CCL21 plays a crucial role in attracting naïve immune cells to sites of antigen presentation. In this study we generated a series of monoclonal antibodies to the amino terminus of CCL21 in an attempt to generate an antibody that blocked the interaction of CCL21 with its receptor CCR7. We found one humanized clone that blocked naïve T-cell migration towards CCL21, while memory effector T-cells were less affected. Using this monoclonal antibody, we also demonstrated that CCL21 is expressed in the mucosal venule endothelium of the large majority of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and also in celiac disease. This expression correlated with active IBD in 5 of 6 cases, whereas none of 6 normal bowel biopsies had CCL21 expression. This study raises the possibility that this monoclonal antibody could be used to diagnose initial or recurrent of IBD. Significantly, this antibody could also be used for therapeutic intervention in IBD by selectively interfering with recruitment of naïve immune effector cells to sites of antigen presentation, without harming overall memory immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas