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J Exp Med. 2011 Nov 21;208(12):2497-510. doi: 10.1084/jem.20111449. Epub 2011 Oct 31.

Follicular dendritic cells help establish follicle identity and promote B cell retention in germinal centers.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) retain and display opsonized antigens in primary follicles and germinal centers (GCs). However, their roles beyond antigen presentation have been incompletely defined. In this study, we tested the impact of selective FDC ablation on short-term follicle and GC function. Within 2 d of FDC ablation, primary follicles lost their homogeneity and became disorganized bands of cells around T zones. These B cell areas retained CXCL13-expressing stromal cells but often exhibited inappropriate ER-TR7 and CCL21 expression. Ablation of GC FDCs led to the disappearance of GCs. When B cell death was prevented using a Bcl2 transgene, FDC ablation led to splenic GC B cell dispersal. Mesenteric lymph node GCs were more resistant but became dispersed when sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-2 was also removed. These experiments indicate that FDCs help maintain primary follicles as a B cell exclusive niche and define a critical role for FDCs in cell retention within GCs.

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