Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What is the function of lymph nodes?

27.05.2009
If we imagine our immune system to be a police force for our bodies, then previous work has suggested that the Lymph nodes would be the best candidate structures within the body to act as police stations – the regions in which the immune response is organised.

However, Prof. Burkhard Becher, University of Zurich, suggests in a new paper – published in this week's issue of PLoS Biology – that lymph nodes are not essential in the mouse in marshalling T-cells (a main immune foot soldier) to respond to a breach of the skin barrier.

This result is both surprising in itself, and suggests a novel function for the liver as an alternate site for T-cell activation.

When a child falls off its bike and scratches its skin, the body responds via the immune system. Scavenger cells at the site of the wound pick up antigens –tiny particles derived from invading microorganisms and dirt that the body will recognize as foreign. These antigens are delivered to the nearest lymph node. T and B cells (immune cells) carrying the matching antigen-receptors on their surface will be stimulated by the concentrated antigen now present in these lymph nodes. T cells will then go on and orchestrate the defensive response against the invaders, whereas B cells will transform into antibody-producing cells flooding the body with antibodies which act against the hostile microorganisms.

Mice that lack lymph nodes due to a genetic mutation (alymphoplasia) are severely immuno-compromised and struggle in fighting infections and tumors. New work by Melanie Greter, Janin Hofmann and Burkhard Becher from the Institute of experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich reports that the immunodeficiency associated with alymphoplasia is not due to the lack of lymph nodes, but caused by the genetic lesion on immune cells themselves. The new paper shows that in the mouse T cell function is unperturbed in the absence of lymph nodes, whereas B cell activation and antibody secretion is strongly affected. That T cell responses can be launched outside of lymph nodes is highly surprising, because this means that T cells can encounter antigens elsewhere in order to become activated. By tracing the migration of fluorescent particles from the site of antigen invasion (i.e. the wound) the scientists discovered that the liver could serve as a surrogate structure for T cell activation. During embryonic development, the liver is the first organ to provide us with blood and immune cells. Apparently, at least in the mouse the liver continues to serve as an "immune organ" even during adulthood.

This work suggests an explanation for the curious fact that patients receiving a liver transplant sometimes inherit the donor's allergies and immune repertoire, so in keeping with the idea that donor immune information is being transplanted. It also suggests that the liver as an immune organ is an evolutionary remnant from the time before lymph nodes developed in higher birds and mammals. Cold-blooded vertebrates have functioning T and B cells but no lymph nodes. The main achievement of the development of lymph nodes in mammals is a drastic improvement for the production of better antibodies. T cells on the other hand have not changed their function much during evolution and the work by the Zurich group finally provides solid evidence for the versatility and promiscuity of this cell type.

Prof. Burkhard Becher | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>