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J Immunol. 2005 May 1;174(9):5720-8.

Adaptive immune responses are dispensable for isolated lymphoid follicle formation: antigen-naive, lymphotoxin-sufficient B lymphocytes drive the formation of mature isolated lymphoid follicles.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Isolated lymphoid follicles (ILFs) are recently appreciated members of the mucosal immune system. The architecture, composition, and inducible nature of these structures indicates that these structures are tertiary lymphoid structures. The process leading to the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures, lymphoid neogenesis, has been observed in a number of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Given this association, there is considerable interest in identifying the factors promoting lymphoid neogenesis, and understanding the steps in this process. Using murine ILF formation as a model, we have examined the roles of different cellular sources of lymphotoxin (LT) and the adaptive immune response in lymphoid neogenesis. In this study, we report that, although other cellular sources of LT may supplant B lymphocytes in the formation of immature ILFs (loosely organized clusters of B lymphocytes), LT-sufficient B lymphocytes are required for the progression of immature ILFs to mature ILFs (organized lymphoid aggregates with a follicle-associated epithelium). ILF formation occurs in the absence of T lymphocytes and Ag-specific B lymphocyte responses, and ILF B lymphocytes express elevated levels of LT in the absence of antigenic stimulation. Consistent with a role for chemokines inducing LT expression in Ag-naive B lymphocytes, and a chemokine-driven positive-feedback loop driving mature ILF formation, mature ILFs express elevated levels of B lymphocyte chemoattractant in the absence of Ag-specific B lymphocyte stimulation. These observations indicate that ILFs contain Ag-naive lymphocytes, and suggest that events occurring within ILFs shape subsequent immune responses mediated by these lymphocytes.

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