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This article is part of the supplement: Kitasato Symposium 2011: Translational prospects for cytokines in 2011

Open Badges Keynote lecture presentation

Dissecting the human T and B cell response to pathogens

Antonio Lanzavecchia

  • Correspondence: Antonio Lanzavecchia

Author affiliations

Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Bellinzona, Switzerland

Institute of Microbiology ETH-Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13(Suppl 2):K1  doi:10.1186/ar3404

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:16 September 2011

© 2011 Lanzavecchia.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keynote lecture presentation

Memory T and B lymphocytes and long lived plasma cells represent a repository of the antigenic experience of an individual. By analyzing the specificity and function of these cells we can gain insights into the human immune response and identify mechanisms of protection and immunopathology. We have developed methods to dissect the functional heterogeneity and antigenic repertoire of human T cells, B cells and plasma cells. These methods are used: i) to identify subsets of effector and memory T cells with distinct roles in immune surveillance and protection in different tissues against different classes of pathogens, and ii) to dissect the relative role of plasma cells and memory B cells in the antibody response to pathogens and to isolate broadly neutralizing antibodies. A better understanding of the class and specificity of the human immune response will be instrumental to guide the design of effective vaccines.