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Immunol Rev. 1997 Dec;160:55-62.

Age-related changes in antibody repertoire: contribution from T cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201, USA.


The immune system of aged mice produces antibodies that are characterized by low affinity, diminished protection against infections and autoreactivity. It has been shown that these antibodies may be encoded by different immunoglobulin V genes and that the mechanism of somatic hypermutation in the V genes is inefficient. Studies on scid mice reconstituted with B and T cells from donors of different ages suggested that both lymphocyte subsets may contribute to the age-related changes in antibody repertoire. With help provided by T cells from young mice, the response to a hapten, nitrophenyl(acetyl), became gradually dominated by B-cell clones that rearranged a particular germline VH gene (V186.2). However, help from the aged T cells resulted in a heterogeneous response of B cells expressing many different V segments. Analysis of discrete foci of primary antibody-forming cells suggested that the aged T-helper cells are unable to govern the normally-occurring competition between the B-cell clones that have different affinities for the hapten. It is proposed that a signaling disequilibrium from the aged T cells, which provide less efficient help in quantitative terms, supports the growth of low-affinity B cells. This process may be exacerbated due to the apparent hyperactivity of aged B cells to CD40-mediated mitogenic signal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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