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August 1, 2005

Size Matters - at least to our immune system

Topics: Medicine

A theory about the way in which the immune system identifies and responds to invasion has been confirmed by Oxford researchers in a paper published in Nature on July 28. The paper shows that a highly sensitive and specific immune response hinges on something as straightforward as large and small molecules jostling into size order.

[Image: an infected cell is examined by two T-cells simultaneously. The bright areas of colour at the cell interfaces are areas where the T-cell receptors are gathering(]

T-cells are a crucial part of our immune system: they patrol the body surveying cells and triggering the immune system to attack those that are infected. The surface of every cell, including T-cells and infected cells, is covered in a variety of molecules. When a T-cell comes into contact with an infected cell, a receptor molecule on the T-cell's surface will bind with a telltale molecule on the surface of the infected cell which flags up the infection (called a peptide MHC). This binding triggers the immune response.

Related reading:
T-cell receptor triggering is critically dependent on the dimensions of its peptide-MHC ligand. (abstract of actual research paper that the article in PhysOrg referred to)

Parvovirus H-1-Induced Tumor Cell Death Enhances Human Immune Response In Vitro via Increased Phagocytosis, Maturation, and Cross-Presentation by Dendritic Cells. (oncolytic virus directly stimulates human antigen-precented cells and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes)

Microparticles shed from different antigen-presenting cells display an individual pattern of surface molecules and a distinct potential of allogeneic T-cell activation. (Mico-particles originating from dendritic cells differ in their surface composition from those released from monocytes and monocyte-derived macrophages.)

Posted by Hyscience at August 1, 2005 11:21 AM

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