Journal of Experimental Medicine
Lymphocyte recirculation through secondary lymphoid organs is essential for immunosurveillance and lymphocyte effector functions. Here, we show that signals through 2-adrenergic receptors (2ARs) expressed on lymphocytes are involved in the control of lymphocyte dynamics by altering the responsiveness of chemoattractant receptors. Agonist stimulation of lymphocyte 2ARs inhibited egress of lymphocytes from lymph nodes (LNs) and rapidly produced lymphopenia in mice. Physiological inputs from adrenergic nerves contributed to retention of lymphocytes within LNs and homeostasis of their distribution among lymphoid tissues. 2ARs physically interacted with CCR7 and CXCR4, chemokine receptors promoting lymphocyte retention in LNs. Activation of 2ARs enhanced retention-promoting signals through CCR7 and CXCR4, and consequently inhibited lymphocyte egress from LNs. In models of T cell-mediated inflammatory diseases, 2AR-mediated signals inhibited LN egress of antigen-primed T cells and reduced their recruitment into peripheral tissues. Thus, this study reveals a novel mechanism for controlling lymphocyte trafficking and provides additional insights into immune regulation by the nervous system.