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Science 298 (5601): 2199-2202

Copyright © 2002 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Maintenance of Serological Memory by Polyclonal Activation of Human Memory B Cells

Nadia L. Bernasconi,* Elisabetta Traggiai,* Antonio Lanzavecchiadagger

Production of antibodies can last for a lifetime, through mechanisms that remain poorly understood. Here, we show that human memory B lymphocytes proliferate and differentiate into plasma cells in response to polyclonal stimuli, such as bystander T cell help and CpG DNA. Furthermore, plasma cells secreting antibodies to recall antigens are produced in vivo at levels proportional to the frequency of specific memory B cells, even several years after antigenic stimulation. Although antigen boosting leads to a transient increase in specific antibody levels, ongoing polyclonal activation of memory B cells offers a means to maintain serological memory for a human lifetime.

Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Via Vela 6, CH 6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland.
*   These authors contributed equally to this work.

dagger    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: lanzavecchia{at}

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Peripheral B cell abnormalities and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus.
A Hostmann, A. Jacobi, H Mei, F Hiepe, and T Dorner (2008)
Lupus 17, 1064-1069
   Abstract »    PDF »
How to cope with pathogenic long-lived plasma cells in autoimmune diseases.
B F Hoyer, I M Mumtaz, T Yoshida, F Hiepe, and A Radbruch (2008)
Ann Rheum Dis 67, iii87-iii89
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Early B-Cell Activation after West Nile Virus Infection Requires Alpha/Beta Interferon but Not Antigen Receptor Signaling.
W. E. Purtha, K. A. Chachu, H. W. Virgin IV, and M. S. Diamond (2008)
J. Virol. 82, 10964-10974
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Hyperproliferation of B Cells Specific for a Weakly Immunogenic PorA in a Meningococcal Vaccine Model.
T. A. Luijkx, J. A. M. van Gaans-van den Brink, H. H. van Dijken, G. P. J. M. van den Dobbelsteen, and C. A. C. M. van Els (2008)
Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 15, 1598-1605
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Cholera Toxin-Specific Memory B Cell Responses Are Included in Patients with Dehydrating Diarrhea Caused by Vibrio cholerae O1.
C. R. Jayasekera, J. B. Harris, S. Bhuiyan, F. Chowdhury, A. I. Khan, A. S. G. Faruque, R. C. LaRocque, E. T. Ryan, R. Ahmed, F. Qadri, et al. (2008)
The Journal of Infectious Disease 198, 1055-1061
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Direct Ex Vivo Evaluation of Long-Lived Protective Antiviral Memory B Cell Responses against Hepatitis B Virus.
S. M. Ward, P. Phalora, D. Bradshaw, H. Leyendeckers, and P. Klenerman (2008)
The Journal of Infectious Disease 198, 813-817
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

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