The human body contains 600 to 800 lymph nodes, which are specialized organs that trigger immune responses. To be informed about infections in the body, lymph nodes are connected to the individual organs via lymph vessels. From the organs, the lymph vessels transport fluids and special immune cells to the lymph nodes. These immune cells are called dendritic cells; they carry information from the organs into the lymph nodes and pass it on to other immune cells there.
Now it is clear: the dendritic cells are not solely responsible for this important flow of information. A research team led by immunologist Professor Wolfgang Kastenmüller from Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, has discovered that so-called unconventional T cells also continuously migrate from the tissue into the lymph nodes and influence the immune responses there.
This discovery has consequences – for vaccination strategies as well as for immunotherapies against cancer.