What are Naïve Cells? Naïve T Cell, Naïve B Cell, and How to Isolate Naïve Lymphocytes

August 2020


If you are studying the immune system, you have likely encountered naïve cells. Naïve T and naïve B cells are key pieces of the immune system, part of the continuous process that allows lymphocytes to fight off bacteria, infections, and diseases.

As part of your research, there may come a time when you need to isolate a naïve T cell or naïve B cell population from the rest of the cells in a biological sample. Unfortunately, there are a lot of drawbacks to traditional cell separation technologies—expensive equipment, slow sorting times, and low recovery rates are just the beginning of issues you may encounter.

Fortunately, there is a new way to separate cells: Akadeum microbubble technology. If you’re looking for a fast, gentle approach to cell isolation, you’re in luck.

We’ll talk more about microbubbles at the end, but for now, let’s get into the nitty gritty details of naïve cells.

What Is a Naïve Cell?

There are two primary types of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells. Lymphocytes mature in the primary lymphoid organs (specifically, T cells mature in the thymus and B cells mature in the bone marrow). Until these cells encounter and recognize an antigen-presenting cell (APC) and differentiate into effector cells, they are known as naïve cells.

Naïve cells continuously circulate between the blood and the lymphatic system. During this process, they encounter thousands of APCs, but if their cell receptors don’t recognize any of the antigens, they reenter the bloodstream and start the process all over. If and when they finally encounter the appropriate antigen, the naïve cells are then activated into different types of T cells.

The study of naïve cells is a foundational part of immunological research, especially when it comes to infectious diseases and cancer.

Naïve T Cells

A naïve T cell is a T cell that has matured and been released by the thymus but has not yet encountered its corresponding antigen. In other words, naïve T cells are in the stage between maturity and activation.

Each naïve T cell has a unique T cell receptor (TCR) that recognizes a specific antigen. Once they encounter the APC specific to their TCR, the activation of naïve T cells will begin.

Memory T cells are also released directly from the thymus after maturity, but these cells recognize and respond to antigens the immune system has previously encountered. Naïve T cells, on the other hand, recognize new antigens the immune system has never encountered, initiating an immune response and allowing the body to react to unfamiliar pathogens, bacteria, and infections. Together, memory T cells and naïve T cells prepare the immune system to encounter both known and unknown antigens.

Naïve B Cells

A naïve B cell is a B cell that has matured and entered the bloodstream but has not yet been exposed to the APC specific to its B cell receptor (BCR).

Like naïve T cells, naïve B cells travel through the lymphatic system until they either become memory B cells or encounter the appropriate antigen and start the activation process. Memory B cells can live for decades, but activated naïve cells don’t survive for long without help from T cells.

How Are Naïve Cells Activated?

Naïve B cell and naïve T cell activation occurs in the secondary lymphoid organs—the spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils, Peyer’s patches, other mucosal tissues, etc.—when their cell receptors encounter the appropriate APC.

When they recognize an antigen, naïve lymphocytes receive three types of signals: an antigen signal through the TCR or BCR, a co-simulatory signal, and a cytokine signal.

If a naïve cell receives all three signals, it differentiates into an effector cell. Naïve B cells differentiate into plasma cells that secret antibodies, and T cells differentiate into various effector T cell subsets, such as CD8+ T cells (killer cells) or CD4+ T cells (helper cells).

If a naïve cell only receives the first signal—the TCR or BCR recognizes an antigen but does not receive a co-simulatory or cytokine signal—the cells are rendered anergic.

What Is the Best Way to Isolate Naïve Cells?

If you are looking for the best way to isolate naïve cells from other, unwanted cell populations in a heterogenous sample . . . we have a solution for you: Akadeum’s buoyancy-activated cell sorting (BACS™) microbubble technology.

Our microbubbles offer a new alternative to traditional cell sorting methods like fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) or magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS). There are many advantages isolating cell populations through BACS™ microbubbles: You don’t need any additional equipment (no magnets, no columns), the whole process takes place in one container—any container—from start to finish, and you save time and money without sacrificing cell viability and purity. BACS allows for high purity human and gentle mouse naïve cell separation.

Try Our Naïve Cell Separation Products Today

Are you ready to give Akadeum microbubbles a try? Check out our cell isolation products to find the best fit for your project.

We are constantly expanding our product line to include new microbubble cell separation products. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, or if you have questions specific to your research, contact us. We’re here to help. You can also book a meeting with one of our scientists to talk through your specific application.

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