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APS lecturer shows rare video of 'teacher-student' immune cell interactions in live animal

o fight off a new infection. His laboratory hones in on how dendritic cells -- professional antigen-presenting cells -- teach T cells to respond to an infection.

"This had never been observed in a live system before we obtained it," von Andrian said of the footage "Before this, what had gone on inside the lymph node was largely a black box." His team published their first work using the new approach in January 2004.

von Andrian's research has focused on how

  • tissues of the immune system recruits T cells
  • dendritic cells get to the right spot, the lymph node, to meet the T-cells
  • T cells and antigen-presenting cells find each other once in the lymph node
  • dendritic cells "educate" the T cells while in the lymph node
  • T cell and dendritic cell interactions change over time

In addition, the research focuses on how T cells, after their "education" is complete, migrate to effector sites elsewhere in the body to eliminate pathogens or tumors, but also may cause inflammatory diseases, von Andrian said.

Dendritic cells teach, T cells learn

"We specialize in various types of intravital microscopy to find out how leukocytes -- the white blood cells of the immune system that fight infection -- find their way around the body and how they communicate with other cells," von Andrian explained. "My lab is interested in leukocyte recruitment and trafficking, particularly in the lymph nodes."

The lymph nodes are the school, the dendritic cells the teachers and the T cells the students, von Andrian explained. Dendritic cells find foreign invaders, rip them apart and bring the pieces (antigens) via the lymphatic system to the nearest lymph node. When the dendritic cell arrives at the lymph node, it presents the dismembered invader to the T and B white blood cells in a way that rings the alarm about the intruder.

"The dendritic cells alert the T cells that there is somethi
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Source:American Physiological Society


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