Dendritic cells (DCs) are well established as potent antigen-presenting cells critical to adaptive immunity. In vaccination approaches, appropriately stimulating lymph node-resident DCs (LNDCs) is highly relevant to effective immunization. Although LNDCs have been implicated in immune response, their ability to directly drive effective immunity to lymph-borne antigen remains unclear. Using an inactive influenza vaccine model and whole node imaging approaches, we observed surprising responsiveness of LNDC populations to vaccine arrival resulting in a transnodal repositioning into specific antigen collection sites within minutes after immunization. Once there, LNDCs acquired viral antigen and initiated activation of viral specific CD4(+) T cells, resulting in germinal center formation and B cell memory in the absence of skin migratory DCs. Together, these results demonstrate an unexpected stimulatory role for LNDCs where they are capable of rapidly locating viral antigen, driving early activation of T cell populations, and independently establishing functional immune response.
© 2014 Woodruff et al.