Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Protective high-affinity antibody responses depend on competitive selection of B cells carrying somatically mutated B-cell receptors by follicular helper T (TFH) cells in germinal centres. The rapid T-B-cell interactions that occur during this process are reminiscent of neural synaptic transmission pathways. Here we show that a proportion of human TFH cells contain dense-core granules marked by chromogranin B, which are normally found in neuronal presynaptic terminals storing catecholamines such as dopamine. TFH cells produce high amounts of dopamine and release it upon cognate interaction with B cells. Dopamine causes rapid translocation of intracellular ICOSL (inducible T-cell co-stimulator ligand, also known as ICOSLG) to the B-cell surface, which enhances accumulation of CD40L and chromogranin B granules at the human TFH cell synapse and increases the synapse area. Mathematical modelling suggests that faster dopamine-induced T-B-cell interactions increase total germinal centre output and accelerate it by days. Delivery of neurotransmitters across the T-B-cell synapse may be advantageous in the face of infection.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





318 - 323


Animals, B-Lymphocytes, CD40 Ligand, Child, Chromogranin B, Dopamine, Female, Germinal Center, Humans, Immunological Synapses, Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Ligand, Mice, Models, Immunological, Neurotransmitter Agents, Secretory Vesicles, T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, Up-Regulation