At sites of inflammation and in normal immune surveillance, chemokines direct leukocyte migration across the endothelium. Many cell types that are extravascular can produce chemokines, and for these mediators to directly elicit leukocyte migration from the blood, they would need to reach the luminal surface of the endothelium. This article reviews the evidence that endothelial cells are active in transcytosing chemokines to their luminal surfaces, where they are presented to leukocytes. The endothelial binding sites that transport and present chemokines include glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and possibly the Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines (DARC). The binding residues on chemokines that interact with GAGs are discussed, as are the carbohydrate structures on GAGs that bind these cytokines. The expression of particular GAG structures by endothelial cells may lend selectivity to the type of chemokine presented in a given tissue, thereby contributing to selective leukocyte recruitment. At the luminal surface of the endothelium, chemokines are preferentially presented to blood leukocytes on the tips of microvillous processes. Similarly, certain adhesion molecules and chemokine receptors are also preferentially distributed on leukocyte and endothelial microvilli, and evidence suggests an important role for these structures in creating the necessary surface topography for leukocyte migration. Finally, the mechanisms of chemokine transcytosis and presentation by endothelial cells are incorporated into the current model of chemokine-driven leukocyte extravasation.

  • Submitted November 1, 2001.
  • Accepted July 24, 2002.
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