Conduits mediate transport of low-molecular-weight antigen to lymph node follicles

Immunity. 2009 Feb 20;30(2):264-76. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.12.014. Epub 2009 Jan 29.


To track drainage of lymph-borne small and large antigens (Ags) into the peripheral lymph nodes and subsequent encounter by B cells and follicular dendritic cells, we used the approach of multiphoton intravital microscopy. We find a system of conduits that extend into the follicles and mediate delivery of small antigens to cognate B cells and follicular dendritic cells. The follicular conduits provide an efficient and rapid mechanism for delivery of small antigens and chemokines such as CXCL13 to B cells that directly contact the conduits. By contrast, large antigens were bound by subcapsular sinus macrophages and subsequently transferred to follicular B cells as previously reported. In summary, the findings identify a unique pathway for the channeling of small lymph-borne antigens and chemoattractants from the subcapsular sinus directly to the B cell follicles. This pathway could be used for enhancing delivery of vaccines or small molecules for improvement of humoral immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Biological Transport / immunology
  • Chemokine CXCL13 / immunology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism*
  • Lymph Nodes / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Weight
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens
  • Chemokine CXCL13