Presentation of antigen in the form of immune complexes to B lymphocytes by follicular dendritic cells (FDC) is considered to be a central step in the generation of memory B cells. During this process, which takes place in the microenvironment of the germinal center, B cells and FDC are in close physical contact. In the present study, we have explored the molecular basis of FDC-B cell interaction by using FDC and B cells derived from human tonsils. We found that FDC express high levels of the adhesion receptors intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1 [CD54]) and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), while the B lymphocytes express lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1 [CD11a/18]), very late antigen 4 (VLA-4 [CD49d], and CD44. Furthermore, we established that both the LFA-1/ICAM-1 and VLA-4/VCAM-1 adhesion pathways are involved in FDC-B lymphocyte binding, and therefore, these pathways might be essential in affinity selection of B cells and in the formation of B memory cells.

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