Understanding immune cell biology to improve vaccination response
Immunisation works by generating antibodies that are able to block a pathogen from infecting the vaccinated individual if they are exposed to that particular bug again. For a good antibody response to be made following vaccination, different types of white blood cells need to act together in specialised structures called germinal centres. Germinal centres form after immunisation or infection in lymphoid tissues, such as tonsils, and produce antibody-secreting cells that are able to provide protection against invading pathogens. One type of white blood cell that participates in the germinal centre response are T follicular regulatory cells, which act to ensure that response isn’t too big, as such they are seen as controllers of the germinal centre and consequently of responses to immunisation.
How T follicular regulatory cells form is the subject of a recent paper published by researchers at the Babraham Institute and INSERM. This paper examines how vaccination induces T follicular regulatory cells to form, and whether changing vaccination formulation can alter these cells. Interestingly, altering the vaccine strategy can have profound impacts on the number of T follicular regulatory cells that are induced following immunisation. This knowledge may be used in the future to inform rational vaccine design.
Tfr cells in the germinal centre. Fourteen days after immunisation Tfr cells (Foxp3=magenta, CD3=Green) can be seen in splenic germinal centres, which are shown by blue (Ki67+) cells within the B cell follicle (Ig =white). Image by Ine Vanderleyden, Linterman lab, Babraham Institute.
Visit our immune army website to find out more about the different cells of your immune system and how they keep you safe from attack.
Animal research statement:
As a publicly funded research institute, the Babraham Institute is committed to engagement and transparency in all aspects of its research. The research presented here involved vaccinating mice to stimulate an immune response, culling them and using their lymph node tissue to learn more about the distribution and formation of different cells of the immune system.
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