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Eur J Immunol. 2008 Jan;38(1):90-101.

Long-term maternal imprinting of the specific B cell repertoire by maternal antibodies.

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Institute of Experimental Immunology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Maternal antibodies protect newborns whilst they are immunologically immature. This study shows that maternal antibodies can also shape the B cell repertoire of the offspring long after the maternal antibodies themselves become undetectable. V(H)DJ(H) gene-targeted (VI10) mice expressing a heavy chain specific for vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) produce a 20-fold increased spontaneous titer of VSV-neutralizing antibodies. When transferred from mother to offspring, these antibodies prevented accumulation of Ag-specific transitional type 2 and marginal zone B cells with an activated phenotype and favored selection to the B cell follicles. This effect was B cell-intrinsic and lasted up to adulthood. The pups nursed by mothers producing specific antibodies developed higher endogenous antibody titers of this specificity which perpetuated the effects of specific B cell selection into the mature follicular compartment, presumably by blocking auto-Ag-dependent development of transitional type 2 B cells in the spleen. This repertoire change was functional, as following infection of adult mice with VSV, those pups that had received specific maternal antibodies as neonates had increased pre-immune titers and mounted strong early IgG neutralizing antibodies.

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