A blood-borne antigen induces rapid T-B cell contact: a potential mechanism for tolerance induction

Immunology. 2002 Dec;107(4):420-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.2002.01527.x.


Understanding the difference between the development of a productive T-cell response and tolerance is central to discerning how the immune system functions. Intravenous injection of soluble protein is thought to mimic the presentation of self-serum and orally introduced antigens. It is generally toleragenic. The current view is that this outcome reflects the failure of 'immunogenic' dendritic cells to relocate to the T-cell zone of the secondary lymphoid tissues. Here, using a peptide/I-Ek tetramer and antibodies to stain splenic sections, we showed that antigen-specific T cells were activated in the spleen within hours of injection or feeding of protein. The activated T cells were found to be located at the T-B junction, the bridging zone and the B-cell area, interacting directly with B cells. In addition, B cells gain the ability to present antigen. Our results suggest a way for T cells to be stimulated by blood-borne antigen presented by naïve B cells, a potential mechanism of tolerance induction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • Antigens / pharmacology
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytochrome c Group / immunology*
  • Cytochrome c Group / pharmacology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic / immunology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Spleen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antigens
  • Cytochrome c Group