Expansive residence decentralizes immune homeostasis

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Expansive residence decentralizes immune homeostasis

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Metazoans relegate specific tasks to dedicated organs that are established early in development, occupy discrete anatomic locations, and typically remain fixed in size. The adult immune system arises from a centralized hematopoietic niche that maintains self-renewing potential, and upon maturation, becomes distributed throughout the body to monitor environmental perturbations, regulate tissue homeostasis, and mediate organism-wide defense. This study examines how immunity is integrated within adult mouse tissues while addressing issues of durability, expansibility, and contribution to organ cellularity. Focusing on antiviral T cell immunity, we observe durable maintenance of resident memory T cells (TRM) up to 450 days after infection. Once established, resident T cells did not require the T cell receptor for survival or retention of a poised effector-like state. While resident memory indefinitely dominated most mucosal organs, surgical separation of parabiotic mice unexpectedly revealed a tissue-resident provenance for bloodborne memory T cells, and circulating memory slowly made substantial contributions to tissue immunity in some organs. Following additional microbial experiences via serial immunizations or pet shop mice co-housing, we find tissue pliancy allows for the accretion of tissue-resident memory, without axiomatic erosion of preexisting antiviral T cell immunity. Extending these findings, we demonstrate tissue residence and organ pliancy are generalizable aspects underlying the homeostasis of innate and adaptive immunity. The immune system-at-large grows commensurate to microbial experience reaching up to 25% of visceral organ cellularity. Regardless of location, many white blood cell populations adopted a tissue residency program within nonlymphoid organs. Thus, residence, rather than renewal or recirculation, typifies nonlymphoid immune surveillance, and organs serve as a pliant storage reservoir that can accommodate the continuous expansion of the cellular immune system throughout life. While hematopoiesis (‘to make blood’) restores certain elements of the immune system, in parallel, nonlymphoid organs sustain an accrual of durable tissue-autonomous cellular immunity, resulting in the progressive decentralization of organismal immune homeostasis.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2020. Major: Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology. Advisor: David Masopust. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 84 pages.

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Wijeyesinghe, Sathi. (2020). Expansive residence decentralizes immune homeostasis. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/226636.

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