At the 5th International Conference on Lymphatic Tissues and Germinal Centres in Immune Reactions 6 years ago I gave a lecture on “The still unsolved mystery of the germinal centre.” This Session bears the same title, but since then at least part of the mystery has in my view been solved. The evidence is now good that the production of B-memory cells (i.e. B-cells capable of responding to further antigenic stimulation, with T-cell help, by secreting antibody) is stimulated by antigen-antibody complexes retained via C3 on follicular dendritic cells (f.d.c.) in germinal centres — at least for T-dependent antigens in the mouse. The correlation between deposition on f.d.c. in the spleen of complexes injected intravenously and the generation of B-memory cells is complete (reviewed in 1). If C3, but nothing else, is sufficiently depleted or if the complexes do not activate mouse C3, no localization of complexes occurs and B-memory cells are not generated; preformed equivalent complexes elicit B-memory cells at least a week sooner than does antigen alone, with or without adjuvant; complexes can be shown to elicit B-memory cells not only against the antigen but also against the idiotype of the antibody in the complex.
KeywordsGerminal Centre Follicular Dendritic Cell Dendritic Process Peanut Agglutinin Reticulum Cell Sarcoma
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