Frontline immune cells can travel for help

16 May 2015

A new study, published in Nature Communications journal, shows that the cells that form the majority of the fast-acting 'innate' immune system can behave differently. The research, conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, found cells react differently when an injury becomes infected.

These 'neutrophils' swarm to injury sites within minutes of it happening but self-destruct once their job is completed. The team have now demonstrated that some neutrophils can also gather reinforcements to fight against pathogens if the injury is infected.

The extra cells come from the slower-acting 'adaptive' immune system by travelling to the nearest lymph node, which helps prepare other types of immune cell for attack.

Dr Tatyana Chtanova, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and project leader, said this is the first time that it has been shown what neutrophils actually do.

She said: "Neutrophils together with T cells will try to clean up infection everywhere, including in the lymph node. Microbes from infection sites can migrate to the lymph node in the lymph stream, separately from neutrophils, so T cell recruitment by neutrophils may help prevent microbial spread."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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