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J Immunol. 1998 Aug 1;161(3):1313-9.

Dendritic cells interact directly with naive B lymphocytes to transfer antigen and initiate class switching in a primary T-dependent response.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.


Dendritic cells (DC) are thought to initiate Ab synthesis by activation of T cells, which then provide cytokine and cell-bound "help" to B cells. Here, we provide evidence that DC can capture and retain unprocessed Ag in vitro and in vivo, and can transfer this Ag to naive B cells to initiate a specific Ab response. The response is skewed with 4- to 13-fold higher titers of IgG than IgM, and the predominant subclasses of Ab produced in naive animals are those associated with Th2-type responses. Ag retention and the skew in class switching is a physiologic phenomenon because DC loaded with Ag in vivo and isolated 24 h later initiated a class-switched, Ag-specific Ab response in naive animals. In vitro studies confirmed that DC provide naive B cells with signals that are essential for the synthesis of class-switched Ab. Taken together, these observations show that DC have an important role in the initiation of Ab synthesis by direct interaction with B cells.

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