T Follicular Helper Cell Dynamics in Germinal Centers

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Science  25 Jul 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1241680

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T follicular helper cells (TFH) are a specialized subset of effector T cells that provide help to and thereby select high-affinity B cells in germinal centers (GCs). To examine the dynamic behavior of TFH cells in GCs in mice, we combined two-photon microscopy and optical highlighting using a photoactivatable fluorescent reporter. Unlike GC B cells, which are clonally restricted, TFH distributed among all GCs in lymph nodes and continually emigrated into the follicle and neighboring GCs. Moreover, newly activated TFH cells invaded pre-existing GCs, where they contributed to B cell selection and plasmablast differentiation. Our data suggest that dynamic exchange of TFH between GCs ensures maximal diversification of T cell help, and their ability to enter ongoing GCs accommodates antigenic variation during the immune response.

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