Cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA) is expressed on a subpopulation of human memory T cells and is involved in the primary step of their skin homing. T cells and some B cells in the peripheral blood express CLA, but the pathophysiologic roles of CLA+ B cells have not yet been clarified. We examined the relationships among CLA expression in B cells and immunoglobulin heavy chain subtype, the localization of CLA+ B cells in the peripheral lymphoid tissues, and their functional binding to E-selectin. CLA was expressed on class-switched, memory B cells in the peripheral blood and tonsils as revealed by flow cytometry. Immunohistochemical staining of the lymph nodes with various types of inflammation or reactive hyperplasia showed CLA on the monocytoid B cells, which correspond to memory cells. The functional study revealed that CLA on B cells bound to E-selectin transfectants. E-selectin was detected on some of the high endothelial venules in the monocytoid B-cell-rich lymph nodes. These findings suggest that CLA is also expressed on a subset of memory/effector B cells, in addition to a subset of memory T cells. Such B cells were located in the lymph nodes or tonsils and rarely in chronic dermatitis. Therefore, CLA seems to be related to memory/effector B-cell trafficking to the lymph nodes or tonsils. According to the multistep theory, mechanisms involved in the second or third step might be different between CLA+ B and T cells.
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