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Nature Immunology

March 2, 2009

Scientists reveal new details on how immune cells communicate upon vaccination in two papers online this week in Nature Immunology. The process enables the body to generate long-term highly effective antibody protection and understanding it better could lead to improved vaccination formulation.

Both papers focus on the interactions of specialized immune cells called follicular helper T cells (TFH) and their interaction with antibody-producing B cells. Michael McHeyzer-Williams and colleagues show only those T cells with highest affinity for the immunizing protein develop into TFH cells in lymph nodes and the spleen. TFH cells then form intimate contacts with B cells in lymphoid follicles, much like dance partners.

Richard Locksley and colleagues show these TFH cells give chemical instructions, known as cytokines, directly to their partner B cells. This interaction directs the B cell to refine its antibody-encoding genes to generate high-affinity antibodies tailored to give the most efficient immune response.

doi: 10.1038/ni.1704

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