Regulation of Memory Antibody Levels: The Role of Persisting Antigen versus Plasma Cell Life Span

Gatto, D.; Martin, S.W.; Bessa, J.; Pellicioli, E.; Saudan, P.; Hinton, H.J.; Bachmann, M.F.

The Journal of Immunology 178(1): 67-76


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.178.1.67
Accession: 068490439

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Protective Ab levels can be maintained for years upon infection or vaccination. In this study, we studied the duration of Ab responses as a function of the life span of plasma cells and tested the role of persisting Ag in maintaining B cell memory. Our analysis of B cell responses induced in mice immunized with virus-like particles demonstrates the following: 1) Ab titers are long-lived, but decline continuously with a t(1/2) of approximately 80 days, which corresponds to the life span of plasma cells; 2) the germinal center (GC) reaction, which lasts for up to 100 days, is dependent on Ag associated with follicular dendritic cells; and 3) early GCs produce massive numbers of plasma and memory B cell precursors, whereas the late Ag-dependent GCs are dispensable for the maintenance of Ab levels and B cell memory.