A conduit system distributes chemokines and small blood-borne molecules through the splenic white pulp

Martijn A Nolte, Jeroen A M Beliën, Inge Schadee-Eestermans, Wendy Jansen, Wendy W J Unger, Nico van Rooijen, Georg Kraal, Reina E Mebius

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170 Citations (Scopus)


Access to the splenic white pulp is restricted to lymphocytes and dendritic cells. Here we show that movement of molecules from the blood into these confined areas is also limited. Large molecules, such as bovine serum albumin (68 kD), immunoglobulin G (150 kD), and 500 kD dextran are unable to enter the white pulp, whereas smaller blood-borne molecules can directly permeate this compartment. The distribution is restricted to a stromal network that we refer to as the splenic conduit system. The small lumen of the conduit contains collagen fibers and is surrounded in the T cell areas by reticular fibroblasts that express ER-TR7. It also contains the chemokine CCL21. Conversely, in B cell follicles the B cell-attracting chemokine CXCL13 was found to be associated with the conduit and absence of ER-TR7+ fibroblasts. These results show heterogeneity of reticular fibroblasts that enfold the conduit system and suggest that locally produced chemokines are transported through and presented on this reticular network. Therefore, the conduit plays a role in distribution of both blood-borne and locally produced molecules and provides a framework for directing lymphocyte migration and organization of the splenic white pulp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-12
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2003


  • Animals
  • Blood
  • Chemokines
  • Dextrans
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Journal Article
  • Lymphotoxin-alpha
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Weight
  • Plasma Substitutes
  • Spleen

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