British researchers explain how these cells present in the immune system ‘smell’ and ‘hunt’ external microorganisms that attack the body, including viruses and harmful bacteria.
Scientists at York University in the United Kingdom published a study in the journal Nature Communications, published by the magazine Galileo, which demonstrates how little-known B cells travel to the lymph nodes and fight viruses and bacteria.
To this end, B cells navigate an intricate pathway of cells, blood, and lymph vessels in order to reach the follicles of the ganglia, which operate as ‘control points’ for pathogens.
According to Mark Leake, co-author of the research and professor in the Department of Physics at York University, said in an article published on the institution’s online page: “the study suggests that B cells ‘sniff out’ a chemical pathway that allows them to swim over relatively long distances in a highly complex microenvironment to reach its main destination “.
“Having a single chemical transmitter to act as a ‘beacon’ throughout the lymph node would not be enough, as the signal becomes too diluted and affected by noise. Instead, these multiple signals are like a breadcrumb trail that the cells can follow, “he said.
As Galileo explains, the structures within the lymph nodes leave a trail of chemical clues that guide B cells through intricate tissues. Upon reaching their destination, the particles confront invading pathogens and destroy molecules present on the outside of microorganisms, the antigens. Then, this ‘invader’ is introduced to T cells, which, in turn, produce antibodies, capable of identifying and destroying these harmful elements.
The study, according to scientists, is extremely relevant for a better understanding about the functioning of the immune system and why it is sometimes so effective in fighting viruses, and sometimes not.
Furthermore, the collected data can contribute to understand the mystery of how these cells, a hundred times smaller than a millimeter, manage to travel distances of about one meter to reach the areas where their presence is necessary in the organism.