Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Full Spleen Ahead
29 March 2013

Full Spleen Ahead

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

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