Skin immune cells remember and fight against parasites
The researchers found that immune cells with specific memories of viral infections can live in certain tissues. These cells act as guards at these sites, where they can rapidly respond at the first sign of the body being reinfected.
How these cells operate is similar to how the brain remembers familiar faces. Immune cells, or T cells, use their memories as they circulate throughout the blood stream to detect new infection sites. These reinfections can include parasite infections.
As part of their study, the Pennsylvania researchers found that a certain population of T cells had a memory of leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease infection, and lived in the skin to guard the body from a second infection.
This is the first time that researchers have identified a population of T cells that live in a specific tissue to protect from parasitic infection.
The new discovery may help researchers to develop a better vaccine against leishmaniasis. It also may help scientists to identify better therapies and vaccines for illnesses such as leprosy and tuberculosis.