Immunology

Orchestrating pathogen defenses in the skin

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6341, pp. 919-920
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6341.919-d

In the tropics, the single-celled parasite Leishmania major transmitted by biting sandflies causes cutaneous leishmaniasis. This difficult-to-treat infection causes disfiguring lesions, and there is no protective vaccine. Glennie et al. studied a population of skin-resident CD4+ memory T cells that can promote a protective immune response in mice. They found that within 3 days of infection, these cells recruited inflammatory monocytes to the infection site. The monocytes helped to kill the parasites by releasing nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species. The skin-resident T cells were key to protection; circulating T cells could not substitute for their protective role within the skin. Thus, the barrier function of the skin is fortified by the presence of these immunological sentinels.

PLOS Path. 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006349 (2017).

Navigate This Article