JAN 12, 2016 02:45 PM PST

Making More Memory Cells to Boost Vaccine Efficacy

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Immune cells are not predestined to be either effector or memory cells, scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Institute find in a new study. In fact, by understanding the signaling pathway of certain inflammatory cytokines, scientists can potentially prompt more cells to become memory cells after an infection in order to improve vaccine efficacy.
 
If you’ve ever had the chickenpox and later were around someone who had them, you know that you didn’t have to worry about getting sick again. Although not all diseases and illnesses render us immune against that specific pathogen for the rest of our life, our body is able to store memory B lymphocytes for the next time we encounter the pathogen. Memory cells stimulate quicker antibody production when a pathogen infects the body for the second or third time. This is also the part of the immune function that make vaccines an effective preventative measure.
 
Vaccines present just enough pathogenic material to our immune cells for memory cells to be produced without causing a full-blown version of the disease. Then when the disease is encountered later, the body is already equipped to fight the infection.
 

 
New research surrounding the cell signaling between immune cells that stimulate memory cell production have scientists believing that they can improve the production of memory cells to make vaccines work more effectively.
 
"Central memory cells allow for such a quick response to antigens that infection typically doesn't have a chance to form. You might not even know you've been infected," said Paul McDonald, a researcher from Virginia Tech. He is also first author on the study paper, published in Nature Communications this week.
 
Production of a cell-signaling cytokine, interleukin-2 (IL-2), increases until the peak of an infection, and as these levels drop effector cells stimulate production of a protein called Bcl-6. In response, T follicular helper (TFH) cells are produced from remaining effector cells. TFH cells help facilitate B cell differentiation into antibodies (Annual Review of Immunology).
 

What scientists did not know until now, however, is that in addition to stimulating production of TFH cells, Bcl-6 also induces memory cell production.
 
In addition, the team found that the “effector cells not only have both the T follicular helper cells and central memory profiles, but they also expressed receptors for two different proteins: interleukin-6 and interleukin-7.”

These cytokines aid in TFH cell development and memory cell regulation, and McDonald’s team found that they could also be the determining factor in whether an effector cell becomes a TFH cell or a memory cell.
 
"Formation of these [memory] cells is critical for a vaccine to work well,” McDonald said.
 
Source: Medical News Today
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 21, 2018
Immunology
JUL 21, 2018
Gut Cells and the Immune System Curriculum
Recent study shows that sensory cells native to the gut are found in Hassall's corpuscles in the thymus, these are shown to play a role in the education of T cells in self vs. non-self....
AUG 06, 2018
Immunology
AUG 06, 2018
Maternal Dengue Immunity Protects Against Infant Zika Infection
Maternal Dengue immunity produces CD8+ T cells that protect against fetal Zika infection preventing zika-related malformations....
SEP 21, 2018
Immunology
SEP 21, 2018
Intrauterine Protection from Allergy Season
Pregnancies during allergy season may provide protection against allergy development in children...
NOV 07, 2018
Immunology
NOV 07, 2018
Herd Protection Against Measles
A 26-year-old leukemia patient dies from exposure to measles. Herd immunity can offer a level of protection for those with impaired immune systems....
NOV 12, 2018
Neuroscience
NOV 12, 2018
Role Of Choroid Plexus Protein Klotho In Aging
Inflammaging, describes the increase in an inflammatory alteration in the brain, due to aging and predicts the morbidity and mortality in older humans....
NOV 14, 2018
Immunology
NOV 14, 2018
Stress in Youth Can Mean Depression as an Adult
A research team investigates early life stress and its relation to adult depression and anxiety...
Loading Comments...