B cells produce antibodies 'when danger calls, but not when it whispers,' scientists report | UCLA

The immune system’s B cells protect us from disease
by producing antibodies, or "smart bullets," that specifically target
invaders such as pathogens and viruses while leaving harmless molecules
alone. But how do B cells determine whether a threat is real and whether
to start producing these weapons?

An international team of life  scientists shows in the May 16 issue of the journal Science how and why  these cells respond only to true threats. "It is critical for B cells to respond either fully or not at all. Anything in between causes  disease," said the study’s senior author, Alexander Hoffmann, a
professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in the UCLA
College of Letters and Science. "If B cells respond wimpily when there
is a real pathogen, you have immune deficiency, and if they respond
inappropriately to something that is not a true pathogen, then you have
autoimmune disease."

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