Dendritic cells are always on alert for pathogens. Alessandra Cambi, Dept. of Tumor immunology, in collaboration with Diane Lidke (University of New Mexico) now reveal that in peripheral tissues mast cells make contact with dendritic cells and pass on antigens that can stimulate an immune reaction.
In this work recently published in the Journal of Cell Biology and highlighted in the “In Focus” section, the research team combined interdisciplinary approaches including immune-histochemistry, flow cytometry and advanced microscopy to investigate mast cell-dendritic cell contacts. The Atomic Force microscope of the MIC operated by Joost te Riet (former postdoc at TIL and currently working at the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine) has been particularly instrumental for this study to measure the interaction forces between individual mast cells and dendritic cells, revealing that antigen-driven mast cell activation induced a significant increase in the adhesive forces between these two cell types. Mast cells are notorious for triggering allergic reactions and asthma, however they are also equipped with pathogen-uptake receptors with which they could interact with invading microbes. Although the relevance of these findings need to be confirmed in vivo, this study, financially supported by the Human Frontier Science Program, puts forward the exciting possibility to use mast cells to assist and reinforce dendritic cell in inducing an immune response.
Mast cells and dendritic cells form synapses that facilitate antigen transfer for T cell activation. J Cell Biol. pii: jcb.201412074, 2015
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