The homing of activated T lymphocytes to the gut in inflammatory bowel diseases is dependent on their coordinated, integrin-mediated adhesion and de-adhesion to substrates and blood vessel walls. In this issue of the JCI, Park and colleagues reveal a key modulatory role of a binding site within β integrins, known as the ADMIDAS domain, in controlling integrin de-adhesion in mice (see the related article beginning on page 2526). These observations add to our growing understanding of how integrin adhesiveness is regulated and raise the notion of the existence of a biological rheostat for lymphocyte homing. Disturbed migratory rheostat tone could account for variations in interindividual immune responses observed in patients with inflammatory bowel disease or other lymphocyte-mediated inflammatory disorders. These findings will inform future strategies to design small molecules for the treatment of a spectrum of chronic inflammatory conditions.
Ivor S. Douglas, Themistocles Dassopoulos