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Making Memory
13 May 2012

Making Memory

Our ability to respond to infections is anchored in a variety of immune cells, including T cells (here dyed blue) and B cells (dyed red, green and white) that look out for invaders. B cells make special proteins – immunoglobulins – that can recognise and bind foreign particles on invaders such as viruses, bacteria, pollen and even food. The reaction allows B cells to ‘remember’ such visitors. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) plays a role in asthma and allergies, when our body mounts a response to innocuous visitors. IgE also helps fight worm infections, although little is known about how it is produced. Scientists looked at the lymph nodes of worm-infected mice, where these cells are made. Here they identify B cells making IgE (green) as those able to remember the disease-causing worm on the event of its return. Understanding immunological memory will help scientists develop better vaccines and treatments.

Written by Gwen Wathne

  • Lawren Wu
  • Dept. of Immunology, Genentech, USA
  • Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Immunology Copyright 2012
  • Published in Nature Immunology

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