Productive follicular dendritic cell (FDC)-B cell interactions appear to involve critical ligand-receptor interactions. Immune complexes (IC) on FDC activate complement and provide FDC with a complement-derived CD21 ligand (CD21L), which bind CD21, while antigen in the IC binds on the B cell-BCR. Further, FDC-FcgammaRIIB binds Fc regions of antibodies in IC and reduces coligation of BCR and FcgammaRIIB minimizing an inhibitor of B cell activation. Given that Fc receptors and complement receptors bind immunoglobulins and complement fragments of other species, we reasoned that FDC accessory activity should cross MHC and species barriers. This prediction was tested using memory lymphocytes from OVA-immune mice and TT-immune humans in combination with FDC from murine lymph nodes and human tonsils. Human and murine FDC converted IC into potent immunogens (specific antibody increased from background to thousands of ng / ml). MHC barriers did not restrict this activity and human FDC worked with murine lymphocytes and murine FDC worked with human lymphocytes. Furthermore, stimulation via MHC-dependent allogeneic or zenogeneic mechanisms did not promote antibody production by FDC. Polyclonal responses stimulated by lipopolysaccharide and pokeweed mitogen were also promoted (10 - 100-fold) and anti-CD21 blocked FDC activity. These results substantiate the hypothesis that FDC are necessary for strong recall responses and that FDC-CD21L is critical.
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