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Immune Cell Trafficking to the Liver

Chaudhry, Sulemon MD1; Emond, Jean MD1; Griesemer, Adam MD1

doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000002690

The human liver is an organ with a diverse array of immunologic functions. Its unique anatomic position that leads to it receiving all the mesenteric venous blood, combined with its unique micro anatomy, allows it to serve as a sentinel for the body’s immune system. Hepatocytes, biliary epithelial cells, Kupffer cells, stellate cells, and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells express key molecules that recruit and activate innate and adaptive immunity. Additionally, a diverse array of lymphoid and myeloid immune cells resides within and traffics to the liver in specific circumstances. Derangement of these trafficking mechanisms underlies the pathophysiology of autoimmune liver diseases, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and liver transplantation. Here, we review these pathways and interactions along with potential targets that have been identified to be exploited for therapeutic purposes.

1 Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY.

Received 17 September 2018. Revision received 21 January 2019.

Accepted 18 February 2019.

S.C. received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 5T32HL007854-19 grant. A.G. was supported by the Louis J. Gerstner, Jr. Foundation Award and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Career Development Award in the Memory of the University of Michigan Transplant Team, NIH-NIAID R56 AI122332, and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH through Grant Number UL1TR001873. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

A.G. received research support from United Therapeutics. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

S.C. participated in research design and writing of the article. J.E. participated in research design and writing of the article. A.G. participated in research design and writing of the article.

Correspondence: Adam Griesemer, MD, Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, 622 West 168th St, Floor 14, New York, NY 10032. (

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