Bacterial infections in the bloodstream pose a potentially lethal challenge unless neutralized by circulating antibodies that are specific for the invading pathogen. In the May issue of Nature Immunology, researchers from Kyoto University, Japan, show that if the spleen lacks early responding antibody-producing cells, the mortality associated with bacterial septicemia dramatically increases.
Antibodies are generated by B lymphocytes, which are found in multiple lymphoid organs and tissues. Tasuku Honjo and colleagues, by studying the developmental requirements of distinct B lymphocytes subsets, generated mice that did not have the early responding B cells, referred to as marginal zone (MZ) B cells. These mice were genetically deficient for B cell expression of the protein RBP-J, which is a key mediator of cell-fate determination (through its involvement in all intracellular signaling pathways that rely on members of the Notch family). The other subset of B cells, called follicular B cells, was normal in these mice, as was their ability to elicit antibody responses to protein and carbohydrate vaccines. However, these responses typically take several days to weeks to develop. The mice lacking MZ B cells failed to survive challenges with live bacteria, a situation that requires a more immediate response, indicating the critical role MZ B cells play in controlling bacterial invasions soon after the initial infection.
Dr. Tasuku Honjo
Faculty of Medicine
Kyoto University, Japan
Tel: +81 75 753 4371
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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