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Immunity. 2009 Feb 20;30(2):264-76. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.12.014. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Conduits mediate transport of low-molecular-weight antigen to lymph node follicles.

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Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology, Immune Disease Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


To track drainage of lymph-borne small and large antigens (Ags) into the peripheral lymph nodes and subsequent encounter by B cells and follicular dendritic cells, we used the approach of multiphoton intravital microscopy. We find a system of conduits that extend into the follicles and mediate delivery of small antigens to cognate B cells and follicular dendritic cells. The follicular conduits provide an efficient and rapid mechanism for delivery of small antigens and chemokines such as CXCL13 to B cells that directly contact the conduits. By contrast, large antigens were bound by subcapsular sinus macrophages and subsequently transferred to follicular B cells as previously reported. In summary, the findings identify a unique pathway for the channeling of small lymph-borne antigens and chemoattractants from the subcapsular sinus directly to the B cell follicles. This pathway could be used for enhancing delivery of vaccines or small molecules for improvement of humoral immunity.

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