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Annu Rev Immunol. 2012;30:429-57. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-020711-075032. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Germinal centers.

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1
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA. victora@wi.mit.edu

Abstract

Germinal centers (GCs) were described more than 125 years ago as compartments within secondary lymphoid organs that contained mitotic cells. Since then, it has become clear that this structure is the site of B cell clonal expansion, somatic hypermutation, and affinity-based selection, the combination of which results in the production of high-affinity antibodies. Decades of anatomical and functional studies have led to an overall model of how the GC reaction and affinity-based selection operate. More recently, the introduction of intravital imaging into the GC field has opened the door to direct investigation of certain key dynamic features of this microanatomic structure, sparking renewed interest in the relationship between cell movement and affinity maturation. We review these and other recent advances in our understanding of GCs, focusing on cellular dynamics and on the mechanism of selection of high-affinity B cells.

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