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Immunity. 2013 May 23;38(5):1013-24. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.03.012. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

Maturation of lymph node fibroblastic reticular cells from myofibroblastic precursors is critical for antiviral immunity.

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Institute of Immunobiology, Kantonal Hospital St. Gallen, 9007 St. Gallen, Switzerland.


The stromal scaffold of the lymph node (LN) paracortex is built by fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs). Conditional ablation of lymphotoxin-β receptor (LTβR) expression in LN FRCs and their mesenchymal progenitors in developing LNs revealed that LTβR-signaling in these cells was not essential for the formation of LNs. Although T cell zone reticular cells had lost podoplanin expression, they still formed a functional conduit system and showed enhanced expression of myofibroblastic markers. However, essential immune functions of FRCs, including homeostatic chemokine and interleukin-7 expression, were impaired. These changes in T cell zone reticular cell function were associated with increased susceptibility to viral infection. Thus, myofibroblasic FRC precursors are able to generate the basic T cell zone infrastructure, whereas LTβR-dependent maturation of FRCs guarantees full immunocompetence and hence optimal LN function during infection.

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