Author(s): Mohrs K, Harris DP, Lund FE, Mohrs M
Oral infection with the nematode parasite Heligmosomoides polygyrus H. polygyrus is entirely restricted to the small intestine. Although the evoked Th2 response has been extensively studied in secondary lymphoid organs, little is known about the systemic dissemination of Th2 cells or type 2 associated eosinophils and basophils. In this study we use bicistronic 4get IL-4 reporter mice to directly visualize the type 2 response to H. polygyrus infection. We observed that CD4(+)/GFP(+) Th2 cells spread systemically and found that these cells accumulated in nonlymphoid "hot spots" in the liver, the lung airways, and the peritoneal cavity. Interestingly, the total number of Th2 cells in the peritoneal cavity was comparable to those found in the draining mesenteric lymph node or the spleen. Peritoneal Th2 cells were distinguished by an exceptionally low apoptotic potential and high expression of the intestinal homing receptor alpha(4)beta(7) integrin. CD4(+)/GFP(+) Th2 cells from these peripheral sites were fully functional as indicated by rapid IL-4 production upon polyclonal or Ag-specific restimulation. Th2 cells persisted in the intestinal tissue and the peritoneal cavity of drug-cured mice for weeks. The presence of peripheral memory Th2 cells in the intestine might be crucial for immunity to recall infections. These findings have important implications for the design of vaccination strategies because it may be necessary to establish and maintain memory CD4(+) T cells at the potential future site of infection.