Antibody-forming cell (AFC) responses in the nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) of BALB/c mice were examined following intranasal infection, mainly of the upper respiratory tract, with a small volume of influenza virus. The infection induced significant accumulation of T and B cells in NALT, peaking around day 7 post-infection. Virus-specific IgA, IgG and IgM AFC responses were induced, developing from day 5 and peaking at day 7; responses were predominantly IgA and IgG, followed by IgM. At peak, NALT contained the greatest number of IgA AFCs per total cells of the lymphoid tissues examined in the upper respiratory tract. The IgM AFC responses were induced in NALT cell cultures from uninfected mice following in vitro culture with influenza virus, indicating that at least a part of the AFCs in infected mice may have originated from specific B cell precursors in NALT. In parallel with the detection of AFCs in infected mice, virus-specific IgA antibodies appeared in the nasal wash and their appearance correlated well with virus clearance from the nasal area. These results suggest that virus-specific IgA antibodies, produced by IgA AFCs in NALT, play an important role in recovery from infection.


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