Gwendalyn J. Randolph, Shashi Bala, Jean-François Rahier, Michael W. Johnson, Peter L. Wang, ILKe Nalbantoglu, Laurent Dubuquoy, Amélie Chau, Benjamin Pariente, Alex Kartheuser, Bernd H. Zinselmeyer, and Jean-Frederic Colombel

Randolph lab coauthors

Picture on the left: Randolph lab coauthors, from L to R: Peter Wang, Bernd Zinselmeyer, Gwendalyn Randolph, Shashi Bala Kumar. Picture on the right: Jean-Frederic Colombel with Gwen Randolph at the 2016 summer symposium of the Rainin Foundation (who first funded this work).

Early pathological descriptions of Crohn disease (CD) argued for a potential defect in lymph transport; however, this concept has not been thoroughly investigated. In mice, poor healing in response to infection-induced tissue damage can cause hyperpermeable lymphatic collecting vessels in mesenteric adipose tissue that impair antigen and immune cell access to mesenteric lymph nodes (LNs), which normally sustain appropriate immunity. To investigate whether analogous changes might occur in human intestinal disease, we established a three-dimensional imaging approach to characterize the lymphatic vasculature in mesenteric tissue from controls or patients with CD. In CD specimens, B-cell-rich aggregates resembling tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs) impinged on lymphatic collecting vessels that enter and exit LNs. In areas of creeping fat, which characterizes inflammation-affected areas of the bowel in CD, we observed B cells and apparent innate lymphoid cells that had invaded the lymphatic vessel wall, suggesting these cells may be mediators of lymphatic remodeling. Although TLOs have been described in many chronic inflammatory states, their anatomical relationship to preestablished LNs has never been revealed. Our data indicate that, at least in the CD-affected mesentery, TLOs are positioned along collecting lymphatic vessels in a manner expected to affect delivery of lymph to LNs.

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