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Science. 2011 Mar 4;331(6021):1203-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1201730. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Different B cell populations mediate early and late memory during an endogenous immune response.

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Department of Microbiology, Center for Immunology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Memory B cells formed in response to microbial antigens provide immunity to later infections; however, the inability to detect rare endogenous antigen-specific cells limits current understanding of this process. Using an antigen-based technique to enrich these cells, we found that immunization with a model protein generated B memory cells that expressed isotype-switched immunoglobulins (swIg) or retained IgM. The more numerous IgM(+) cells were longer lived than the swIg(+) cells. However, swIg(+) memory cells dominated the secondary response because of the capacity to become activated in the presence of neutralizing serum immunoglobulin. Thus, we propose that memory relies on swIg(+) cells until they disappear and serum immunoglobulin falls to a low level, in which case memory resides with durable IgM(+) reserves.

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