Activation of B cells by antigens on follicular dendritic cells

Trends Immunol. 2010 Jun;31(6):205-11. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Apr 24.


A need for antigen-processing and presentation to B cells is not widely appreciated. However, cross-linking of multiple B cell receptors (BCRs) by T-independent antigens delivers a potent signal that induces antibody responses. Such BCR cross-linking also occurs in germinal centers where follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) present multimerized antigens as periodically arranged antigen-antibody complexes (ICs). Unlike T cells that recognize antigens as peptide-MHC complexes, optimal B cell-responses are induced by multimerized FDC-ICs that simultaneously engage multiple BCRs. FDC-FcgammaRIIB mediates IC-periodicity and FDC-BAFF, FDC-IL-6 and FDC-C4bBP are co-stimulators. Remarkably, specific antibody responses can be induced by FDC-ICs in the absence of T cells, opening up the exciting possibility that people with T cell insufficiencies may be immunized with T-dependent vaccines via FDC-ICs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells, Follicular / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell