At the first sign of viral invasion our spleens are called into action. Each fluorescent dot magnified in the picture on the left is an anti-viral blood cell, known as a B-cell. The web of white lines on the right shows computer analysis following the B-cells as they shuttle about inside oval-shaped areas of the spleen called follicles, gathering ‘intelligence’ on the enemy virus. The B-cells – 300,000 times smaller than rookie soldiers – are ‘trained’ to tackle the virus; only the most effective will divide and expand in huge numbers before leaving the follicles to face their foe. These pictures show how the loss of an essential ‘migration’ gene has trapped most of the green-coloured B-cells cells inside the follicle, while the red B-cells, which have the gene, are beginning to move out.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.