What then is the function of HEV? The answer will depend on which HEV-associated property is under consideration. During the development of the immune system, HEVs are crucial for its formation and function in that they localize recently matured

T and B lymphocytes to secondary lymphoid organs. The unique structure of HEV provides an efficient collector of lymphocytes from the blood in that rapid changes in blood flow, trapping and migration of lymphocytes are facilitated. The migration of lymphocyte subsets to different regions of the immune system via organ-specific vascular addressins suggests that HEVs can directly affect the outcome of a local immune response. Finally, HEV-like vessels at sites of chronic inflammation will promote the immigration of naive lymphocytes and thus may amplify and maintain ongoing immune responses. Identification of the stimuli that induce HEV formation at these sites may, therefore, provide a means of controlling chronic immune-mediated inflammation.

See also: Adhesion molecules; Lewisx/sialyl-Lewisx (CD15/CD15S); Cytokines; Diapedesis; Endothelium; Integrins; Intercellular adhesion molecules: ICAM-1, ICAM-2 and ICAM-3; Lymph nodes; Lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1); Lymphocyte trafficking; Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT); Selectlns (CD62-E/L/P).

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