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Immunology. 1998 Aug;94(4):455-60.

Antigen detection in vivo after immunization with different presentation forms of rabies virus antigen, II. Cellular, but not humoral, systemic immune responses against rabies virus immune-stimulating complexes are macrophage dependent.

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Laboratory for Quality Control, Institute for Animal Science and Health, Lelystad, The Netherlands.


In this paper we describe the effect of depletion of splenic macrophages on the uptake, and immune response against, different formulations of rabies virus antigen. Splenic macrophages were removed by intravenous injection with clodronate liposomes. beta-propiolacton inactivated rabies virus (RV-BPL) and immune-stimulating complexes (iscom) containing these antigens were given to macrophage-depleted and control mice. In the absence of phagocytic cells in the spleen, antigen is still trapped in the red pulp and to a lesser extent in the peri-arteriolar lymphocyte sheaths (PALS) for both antigen formulations. The localization pattern in the main area of immune response induction, namely the follicles, was unaltered after macrophage depletion. Functionally, the depletion of splenic and liver macrophages had no influence on the induction of specific antibody responses in both RV-BPL or RV-iscom immunized mice, even though the latter presentation form was clearly associated with specific localization in the marginal metallophillic macrophages. In RV-BPL immunized mice, macrophage depletion had no influence on proliferative T-cell responses. However, macrophage-depleted mice that were immunized with RV-iscom showed a significant decrease in proliferative T-cell responses. These results confirm existing ideas on the spleen as a physical filter rather than an induction site for humoral responses and shed new light on the efficient role of iscoms as antigen-presenting moieties in relation to their specific in vivo localization patterns and partial macrophage dependency.

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