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Germinal centres (GC) are an important part of the humoral immune response. They develop dynamically after the activation of B-cells by T-dependent antigen. Histologically, the GCs describe microscopically distinguishable parts in lymphoid tissues.
1. Activated B-cells migrate into the follicular system and begin monoclonal expansion in the environment of follicular dendritic cells (FDC).
2. After three days of expansion the B cells mutate their antibody-encoding DNA and thus generate a diversity of clones in the germinal centre. This also involves deletions, insertions and recombination of the V, D, J genes.
3. Upon some unidentified stimulus from the FDC, the B cells start to expose their antibody to their surface and in this stage are referred to as centrocytes. The centrocytes are in a state of activated apoptosis and compete for survival signals from FDCs that present the antigen. This rescue process is believed to be dependent on the affinity of the antibody to the antigen.
4. The functional B-cells have then to interact with helper T cells to get final differentiation signals. This also involves isotype switching for example from IgM to IgG. The interaction with T cells is believed to prevent the generation of autoreactive antibodies.
5. The B cells become either a plasma cell spreading antibodies or a memory B cell that will be activated in subsequent contacts with the same antigen. They may also restart the whole process of proliferation, mutation and selection according to the recycling hypothesis.
Morphology at different stages
The morphology of GCs is very specific and shows properties which are characteristic for different stages of the reaction.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Germinal_center". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|