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Staying to Help

T cells remain resident in the lung after influenza infection ready for any repeat challenge

06 February 2021

Staying to Help

Great teams have both youthful ambition and battle-worn experience. In the body, the experience of past trials is provided by immune cells called memory T cells, which persist after one infection to guard against returning foes. These are well studied in some parts of the body like the blood, but relatively unknown within tissues themselves. A new study has revealed them in the lungs, lingering long after influenza infection and able to tackle reinfection, even from a different strain of the virus. Keeping watch at the infection site makes sense, and researchers found both alarm-raising cells and those that empower B cells – other immune system players that produce disease-fighting antibodies. The T cells (highlighted pink) closely aligned with B cells (blue) on infection to boost the defensive action. If vaccinations against any viruses could boost the production of these resident guardians, they could provide longer-lasting immunity, even against new, lockdown-inducing variants.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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