Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Arthritis Research & Therapy and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Increased frequency of CCR4+ and CCR6+ memory T-cells including CCR7+CD45RAmed very early memory cells in granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's)

Ursula Fagin, Silke Pitann, Wolfgang L Gross and Peter Lamprecht*

Author Affiliations

Department of Rheumatology, Vasculitis Center UKSH and Clinical Center Bad Bramstedt, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R73  doi:10.1186/ar3794

Published: 10 April 2012



Chemokine receptors play an important role in mediating the recruitment of T cells to inflammatory sites. Previously, small proportions of circulating Th1-type CCR5+ and Th2-type CCR3+ cells have been shown in granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA). Wondering to what extent CCR4 and CCR6 expression could also be implicated in T cell recruitment to inflamed sites in GPA, we investigated the expression of CCR4 and CCR6 on T cells and its association with T cell diversity and polarization.


Multicolor flow cytometry was used to analyze CCR4, CCR6, and intracellular cytokine expression of T cells from whole blood of GPA-patients (n = 26) and healthy controls (n = 20). CCR7 and CD45RA were included for phenotypic characterization.


We found a significant increase in the percentages of circulating CCR4+ and CCR6+ cells within the total CD4+ T cell population in GPA. In contrast, there was no difference in the percentages of CD8+CCR4+ and CD8+CCR6+ T cells between GPA and healthy controls. CCR4 and CCR6 expression was largely confined to central (TCM) and effector memory T cells (TEM, TEMRA). A significant increase in the frequency of CCR4+ and CCR6+ TEMRA and CCR6+ TCM was shown in GPA. Of note, we could dissect CCR4 and CCR6 expressing CCR7+CD45RAmed very early memory T cells (TVEM) from genuine CCR7+CD45RAhigh naïve T cells lacking CCR4 and CCR6 expression for peripheral tissue-migration within the CCR7+CD45RA+ compartment. The frequencies of CCR4+ and CCR6+ TVEM were also significantly increased in GPA. An increased percentage of IL-17+ and IL-22+ cells was detected in the CCR6+ cell subsets and IL-4+ cells in the CRR4+ cell subset when compared with CD4+ cells lacking CCR4 and CCR6 expression.


Increased frequencies of circulating CCR4+ and CCR6+ memory T cell subsets including hitherto unreported TVEM suggest persistent T cell activation with the accumulation of CCR4+ and CCR6+ cells in GPA. CCR4 and CCR6 could be involved in the recruitment of T cells including cytokine-producing subsets to inflamed sites in GPA.