Study Shows Mucosa Forms Special Immunological Memory; Possible Breakthrough for Vaccine Research

If a vaccine is to protect the intestines and other mucous membranes in the body, it also needs to be given through the mucosa, for example as a nasal spray or a liquid that is drunk. The mucosa forms a unique immunological antibody memory that does not develop if the vaccine is given by injection. This has been shown by the results of a new study from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenberg, and published online on September 6, 2016 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “Limited Clonal Relatedness Between Gut IgA Plasma Cells and Memory B Cells After Oral Immunization.” Immunological memory is the secret to human protection against various diseases and the success of vaccines. It allows our immune system to quickly recognize and neutralize threats that it has experienced before. “The largest part of the immune system is in our mucosa. Even so, we understand less about how immunological memory protects us there than we do about protection in the rest of the body. Some have even suggested that a typical immune memory function does not exist in the mucosa,” says Dr. Mats Bemark, Associate Professor of Immunology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. After extensive work, the research team at Sahlgrenska Academy can now show that this assumption is completely wrong. In studies in mice, the researchers show that the mucosal immune system can lead to a lifelong memory in the intestines of mice. After immunization, long-lived cells make antibodies that are transported into the intestine through the mucosa. In addition, memory cells form that can rapidly initiate a new immune response if needed and that can form new cells that produce antibodies. “We show that the memory cells created in the mucosa are different from memory cells formed in other parts of the body.
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