Getting a virus infection often begins by inhaling virus that someone else sneezes out into the air; but where in the body do immune cells come into contact with viruses to initiate effective immune responses? A study in the February 2008 issue of Nature Immunology uncovers a surprising answer that may help to create effective anti-viral vaccines.
A group led by Jon Yewdell use a technique called intravital microscopy, which allows visualization of intact tissues and their cellular constituents, to see where two different types of viruses first encounter immune cells. Focusing on lymph nodes, pea-sized tissues containing different types of immune cells, the group found that rather than encountering immune cells deep within the lymph node, as most previous work has indicated, viruses encounter immune cells just under the lymph node outer capsule. Specialized immune cells called T lymphocytes migrate to this outer region and become activated to trigger antiviral responses.
Pinpointing exactly where in the body immune cells become activated to fight against infecting pathogens, as this new work does, may aid in the design of effective anti-viral vaccines.
Jonathan Yewdell (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Please contact the author through Sitara Maruf, NIAID Office of Communications
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza