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OHSU researchers demonstrate how white blood cells cannibalize virus-infected cells

lls also began to glow with the fluorescent dye. Further investigation revealed that the CD8+ T-cells, often referred to as "killer" T-cells, were literally ingesting parts of the virus-infected cells that they were attacking.

Slifka and Beadling's findings follow a discovery by David Parker, Ph.D., a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine. Parker and his colleague, Scott Wetzel, noted a similar behavior in CD4+ T-cells, often called "helper" T-cells, which are less aggressive T-cells but also an important aspect of the immune system.

"Another interesting finding for our lab is that in some ways, T-cells can be picky eaters," explained Slifka. "Although they will destroy almost any infected cell, they prefer to eat certain types of cells but not others. For instance, we noted that CD8+ T-cells consumed other white blood cells such as infected B-cells, but they were not fond of eating infected fibroblasts, a type of cell found in connective tissue. They're sort of like a 5-year-old who loves to eat cookies, but refuses to eat their brussels sprouts."

The researchers believe that these findings may be useful as a method for determining a vaccine's effectiveness during the process of immunization. Measuring the levels at which CD8+ T-cells respond to and consume a candidate vaccine could likely determine whether that vaccine is effective in educating the body's immune system as to what diseases to look for.


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Source:Oregon Health & Science University


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