The role of lymphocytes in the development and treatment of alopecia areata.
The skin is a large and complex organ that acts as a critical barrier protecting the body from pathogens in the environment. Numerous heterogeneous populations of immune cells are found within skin, including some that remain resident and others that can enter and exit the skin as part of their migration program. Pathogen-specific CD8(+) T cells that persist in the epidermis following infection are a unique population of memory cells with important roles in immune surveillance and protective responses to reinfection. How these tissue-resident memory T cells form in the skin, the signals controlling their persistence and behavior, and the mechanisms by which they mediate local recall responses are just beginning to be elucidated. Here, we discuss recent progress in understanding the roles of these skin-resident T cells and also highlight some of the key unanswered questions that need addressing.