Phenotype and immune function of lymph node and peripheral blood CLL cells are linked to transendothelial migration

M. Pasikowska, E. Walsby, B. Apollonio, K. Cuthill, Elizabeth H. Phillips, E. Coulter, M.S. Longhi, Y. Ma, D. Yallop, L.D. Barber, P. Patten, C. Fegan, A.G. Ramsay, C. Pepper, S. Devereux, A.G.S. Buggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several lines of evidence suggest that homing of tumor cells to lymphoid tissue contributes to disease progression in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Here, we demonstrate that lymph node (LN)-derived CLL cells possess a distinct phenotype, and exhibit enhanced capacity for T-cell activation and superior immune synapse formation when compared with paired peripheral blood (PB) samples. LN-derived CLL cells manifest a proliferative, CXCR4dimCD5bright phenotype compared with those in the PB and higher expression of T-cell activation molecules including CD80, CD86, and HLA-D–related (DR). In addition, LN-CLL cells have higher expression of α4β1 (CD49d) which, as well as being a co-stimulatory molecule, is required for CLL cells to undergo transendothelial migration (TEM) and enter the proliferation centers of the LNs. Using an in vitro system that models circulation and TEM, we showed that the small population of CLL cells that migrate are CXCR4dimCD5bright with higher CD49d, CD80, CD86, and HLA-DR compared with those that remain circulating; a phenotype strikingly similar to LN-derived CLL cells. Furthermore, sorted CD49dhi CLL cells showed an enhanced capacity to activate T cells compared with CD49dlo subpopulations from the same patient. Thus, although PB-CLL cells have a reduced capacity to form immune synapses and activate CD4+ T cells, this was not the case for LN-CLL cells or those with the propensity to undergo TEM. Taken together, our study suggests that CLL cell immunologic function is not only modulated by microenvironmental interactions but is also a feature of a subpopulation of PB-CLL cells that are primed for lymphoid tissue homing and interaction with T cells.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


Dive into the research topics of 'Phenotype and immune function of lymph node and peripheral blood CLL cells are linked to transendothelial migration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this