This year the AAI anual meeting took place in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania at the David L. Lawrence convention center. This is a huge meeting comprised of over 100 sessions and over 2,050 poster presenters. Members of guest societies (Korean and Japanese Association of Immunologists) presented remarkable studies as well. Although this meeting is specialised in immunology, sessions also addressed the many different faces of immune responses to parasites, ranging from viruses to helminths.
Renowned researchers in the immuno-parasitology field attended the AAI 2014 meeting. Therefore, this was a great opportunity for me to get some feedback from them. I met and talked to Dr. Meera Nair who has been interested in alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs) elicited by worm infections and is currently dissecting the role of Relm-alpha, a molecule highly expressed in this AAMs population. This was really helpful as I presented data involving tapeworm antigens and their effect on bone marrow derived-macrophages.
Furthermore, I also spoke with Dr. Michael Cancro (a B cells expert) and his trainees who are describing a novel phenotype of B cell which produce high amounts of granzyme B and exert regulatory functions. Interestingly, these are not plasma cells (antibody producing cells). The latter was helpful given that we have just identified a regulatory B cell subpopulation generated by Hymenolepis diminuta infection, which exhibit anti-inflammatory abilities. These cells also do not up-regulate plasma cells markers, suggesting that B cells do not have to switch to a plasma cell phenotype to be regulatory. These are just 2 examples of how important and helpful it was to attend this meeting.
Finally, in addition to the interaction with experts in our field, this meeting also offered the opportunity to attend a remarkable presentation of Lifetime Achievement Award. AAI president Dr. Mark K. Jenkins presented “The in vivo response of naive CD4+ T cells” which summarised more than 30 years of striking work. There was something that really caught my eye from this presentation, amongst other huge findings, Dr. Jenkins and his team have been able to track specific CD4+ T cell clones and found that a human only carries five T cells which are able to recognize tuberculosis parasites antigens and these five cells alone start all the adaptive immune reponses during a tuberculosis infection.
This is the first time I attended the AAI annual meeting, it was an amazing and inspiring opportunity and I would like to thank Host-Parasite Interactions (HPI) program for sponsoring my trip to this meeting.
Jose L. Reyes