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!
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering