There goes the macrophage neighborhood

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Science  06 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6222, pp. 609-610
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6919

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The lymph node is a highly structured organ optimized for generating adaptive immune responses. Lymph fluid carrying pathogens and their antigens from infected tissue is first distributed into a large cavity just beneath the node's surface, which is populated by a dense layer of specialized macrophages. These subcapsular sinus (SCS) macrophages filter incoming lymph, capture pathogens, and relay pathogen-derived antigen to B cells in subjacent follicles, provoking them to produce antibodies (see the figure). At the original infection site, migratory dendritic cells (DCs) are activated, acquire antigen, and deliver it to the node through the lymph, generating a secondary wave of immune cell activation. Until now, this influx of DCs has been viewed as beneficial to the host, as they activate T cells within the node's paracortex. However, on page 667 of this issue, Gaya et al. (1) demonstrate that incoming DCs can be harmful. These cells can disrupt the SCS macrophage layer and reduce the host's ability to mount a humoral (antibody) response to a secondary pathogen.