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The introduction of vaccines containing the capsular polysaccharides of N. meningitidis, S. pneumonia, and H. influenzae type b has driven a significant reduction in cases of disease caused by these bacteria. The polysaccharide-specific antibody responses following vaccination are well characterized, however less is known about the B cells underlying this response. Here, we summarize the plasma cell (PC) and memory B cell (BMEM) responses following plain polysaccharide and protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccination, drawing together studies covering a range of vaccines and age groups. These studies show that infant primary PC and BMEM responses to polysaccharide-conjugate vaccines are low in relation to older age groups but are significantly higher following booster doses. PC kinetics have generally been found to follow a similar pattern irrespective of vaccine type or age group, whereas divergent BMEM responses have been reported following plain polysaccharide and conjugate vaccination. A degree of correlation between early BMEM responses and maintenance of protective antibody levels has been identified in some studies, but the relationship between the 2 remains unclear. Identification of the B cell subsets involved and the mechanisms by which they are induced may provide a better understanding of the role of B cells in maintaining protective immunity through vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Vaccin Immunother

Publication Date





1661 - 1668


B cells, B lymphocytes, antibody, glycoconjugate, immune response, polysaccharide, thymus-dependent, thymus-independent, vaccination, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Antibodies, Bacterial, B-Lymphocyte Subsets, Bacterial Vaccines, Child, Female, Haemophilus influenzae, Humans, Immunologic Memory, Infant, Male, Neisseria meningitidis, Plasma Cells, Polysaccharides, Bacterial, Streptococcus pneumoniae