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Lander University Scientist Publishes Article on Immune Responses of Salivary Gland

Mark PigrimLander University assistant professor of biology Mark J. Pilgrim is the co-author of a research article that recently appeared in a prestigious scholarly journal.

The article, "Salivary Glands Act as Mucosal Inductive Sites Via The Formation of Ectopic Germinal Centers After Site-Restricted MCMV Infection," was published in the May 2011 issue of The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, better known as The FASEB Journal.

"The salivary glands provide saliva containing antibodies against pathogens in the mouth, protecting it from infection," explained Pilgrim. "Interestingly, the salivary gland normally does not produce the cells responsible for this immunity, but receives them from other tissues in our immune system. In this study, localized injection of the salivary glands of mice with a herpesvirus, mouse cytomegalovirus (CMV), was investigated as a way to directly stimulate salivary gland immune responses to protect the oral cavity."

Pilgrim and the other researchers discovered that injection of the virus into the salivary gland resulted in reorganization of the gland tissue into something similar to tissues where immune cells are formed. Following immunization, mice were protected from the virus when they were infected by other routes.

"These studies will form the foundation for further study of the salivary gland as a potential immunization site against pathogens, which I will continue at Lander University, in collaboration with researchers at Stonybrook University and the Medical University of South Carolina," Pilgrim said.