Researchers Find Functions of 2 Types of B Cells

A specialized subpopulation of the antibody-producing B cells of the immune system plays a "double-barreled" role in triggering both kinds of immunity -- innate and acquired, Duke University immunologists have discovered. The division of labor between B-1a and B-1b cells they have uncovered offers basic insights that could contribute to more rational development of vaccines.

B cells are the arms factories of the immune system, producing antibodies that target invading microbes for destruction. Generally, B-1 cells have been thought to play a major role in the innate immune response -- the type of immunity that offers rapid, generalized responses to infections. Less understood has been any role in adaptive immunity -- in which the immune system develops a long-term immune response to an invader after vaccination or infection.

The researchers concluded that the B-1a cells regulate the innate immune response and the B-1b cells regulate the adaptive, long-term immune response. Knowing this, researchers can work on finding a vaccine mechanism for diseases such as B cell lymphomas.
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