Identifying a Novel Role for Fractalkine (CX3CL1) in Memory CD8(+) T Cell Accumulation in the Omentum of Obesity-Associated Cancer Patients

Type Article

Journal Article


M. J. Conroy; S. G. Maher; A. M. Melo; S. L. Doyle; E. Foley; J. V. Reynolds; A. Long; J. Lysaght

Year of publication



Front Immunol







The omentum is enriched with pro-inflammatory effector memory CD8(+) T cells in patients with the obesity-associated malignancy, esophagogastric adenocarcinoma (EAC) and we have identified the chemokine macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha as a key player in their active migration to this inflamed tissue. More recently, others have established that subsets of memory CD8(+) T cells can be classified based on their surface expression of CX3CR1; the specific receptor for the inflammatory chemokine fractalkine. CD8(+) T cells expressing intermediate levels (CX3CR1(INT)) are defined as peripheral memory, those expressing the highest levels (CX3CR1(HI)) are effector memory/terminally differentiated and those lacking CX3CR1 (CX3CR1(NEG)) are classified as central memory. To date, the fractalkine:CX3CR1 axis has not been examined in the context of CD8(+) T cell enrichment in the omentum and here we examine this chemokines involvement in the accumulation of memory CD8(+) T cells in the omentum of EAC patients. Our data show that fractalkine is significantly enriched in the omentum of EAC patients and drives migration of T cells derived from EAC patient blood. Furthermore, CX3CR1 is endocytosed specifically by CD8(+) T cells upon encountering fractalkine, which is consistent with the significantly diminished frequencies of CX3CR1(INT) and CX3CR1(HI) CD8(+) T cells in the fractalkine-rich environment of omentum in EAC, relative to matched blood. Fractalkine-mediated endocytosis of CX3CR1 by CD8(+) T cells is sustained and is followed by enhanced surface expression of L-selectin (CD62L). These novel data align with our findings that circulating CX3CR1(NEG) CD8(+) T cells express higher levels of L-selectin than CX3CR1(INT) CD8(+) T cells. This is consistent with previous reports and implicates fractalkine in the conversion of CX3CR1(INT) CD8(+) T cells to a CX3CR1(NEG) phenotype characterized by alterations in the migratory capacity of these T cells. For the first time, these findings identify fractalkine as a driver of T cell migration to the omentum in EAC and indicate that CD8(+) T cells undergo sequenced fractalkine-mediated alterations in CX3CR1 and L-selectin expression. These data implicate fractalkine as more than a chemotactic cytokine in obesity-associated meta-inflammation and reveal a role for this chemokine in the maintenance of the CX3CR1(NEG) CD8(+) T cell populations.