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Immunology. 2002 Dec;107(4):420-5.

A blood-borne antigen induces rapid T-B cell contact: a potential mechanism for tolerance induction.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.


Understanding the difference between the development of a productive T-cell response and tolerance is central to discerning how the immune system functions. Intravenous injection of soluble protein is thought to mimic the presentation of self-serum and orally introduced antigens. It is generally toleragenic. The current view is that this outcome reflects the failure of 'immunogenic' dendritic cells to relocate to the T-cell zone of the secondary lymphoid tissues. Here, using a peptide/I-Ek tetramer and antibodies to stain splenic sections, we showed that antigen-specific T cells were activated in the spleen within hours of injection or feeding of protein. The activated T cells were found to be located at the T-B junction, the bridging zone and the B-cell area, interacting directly with B cells. In addition, B cells gain the ability to present antigen. Our results suggest a way for T cells to be stimulated by blood-borne antigen presented by naïve B cells, a potential mechanism of tolerance induction.

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