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Vaccine. 2003 Dec 8;22(1):57-63.

Lymphocyte distribution in the tonsils prior to and after influenza vaccination.

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  • 1Broegelmann Research Laboratory, The Gade Institute, University of Bergen, Armauer Hansen Building, N-5021 Bergen, Norway.


The tonsils, consisting of the adenoid, tubal, palatine and pharyngeal tonsils, form a ring like structure in humans called Waldeyer's ring. The ring of tonsils is rich in lymphocytes and may play an important role as a reservoir of memory and immune competent cells serving the respiratory tract. The tonsils may also function as an activating and effector site for immune responses against respiratory pathogens. In this study, we have examined histological tissue sections from palatine tonsils for influenza specific antibody secreting cells (ASC) and several cell surface markers, from non-vaccinated and influenza vaccinated subjects. We found an increase in the number of influenza specific ASC in the tonsils of the influenza vaccinated subjects. These ASC was found scattered inside and surrounding the germinal centres, indicating that they may have homed to the tonsils. In addition, we observed a significant decrease in CD4 positive cells in tonsils of vaccinated subjects. Similar trends were also detected for CD45RA and CD45RO positive cells, which were significantly reduced in the vaccinated tonsils. The number of macrophages bearing the CD68 surface marker increased in numbers in vaccinated subjects. This shows that dynamic changes takes place in the tonsils after parenteral influenza vaccination, which may point to an important role of the tonsils in combating respiratory pathogens.

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