This week we profile a recent publication in Science Immunology from the laboratory of Dr.
Daniel Campbell (pictured, left) at the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.
Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?
My laboratory is interested in understanding the basis for T cell activation, function and tolerance. The lab is also interested in determining how the T cells interact with epithelial cells in tissues such as the skin and lungs to regulate normal tissue function, and in understanding how this changes during disease. For this study, we collaborated with Dr. Iris Gratz’s group at the University of Salzburg in Austria to study the migration and function of T cells in human skin.
What is the significance of the findings in this publication?
Although T cells are abundant in the blood, these circulating T cells are not thought to be representative of T cells within tissues like the skin. Instead, the skin is colonized by specialized T cells known as ‘resident memory’ T cells that are thought to be locked in the tissue. Using a combination of techniques, we identified skin resident memory T cells in the circulation, and showed that they can use the blood to move from one area of human skin to another. These cells express genes that imply a role in wound healing and fighting infection, and thus we think these cells can be recruited to areas where the skin is damaged to help prevent infection and aid in tissue-repair. One really neat thing about our work is that now you can study this population of skin T cells in the blood, which is much more broadly available and less invasive than the need for a skin biopsy. This should further accelerate research into the biology of these cells.
What are the next steps for this research?
We need to learn more about the specific functions of these migrating skin T cells, and whether they are increased or reduced in different skin diseases such as scleroderma or psoriasis. Once we understand more, we may be able to manipulate this population of cells to help promote protective immunity and tissue-repair responses in the skin.
This work was funded by:
This work was funded by a grant from the NIH to Drs. Campbell and Gratz.