Regulation of memory antibody levels: the role of persisting antigen versus plasma cell life span.
Gatto D., Martin SW., Bessa J., Pellicioli E., Saudan P., Hinton HJ., Bachmann MF.
Protective Ab levels can be maintained for years upon infection or vaccination. In this study, we studied the duration of Ab responses as a function of the life span of plasma cells and tested the role of persisting Ag in maintaining B cell memory. Our analysis of B cell responses induced in mice immunized with virus-like particles demonstrates the following: 1) Ab titers are long-lived, but decline continuously with a t(1/2) of approximately 80 days, which corresponds to the life span of plasma cells; 2) the germinal center (GC) reaction, which lasts for up to 100 days, is dependent on Ag associated with follicular dendritic cells; and 3) early GCs produce massive numbers of plasma and memory B cell precursors, whereas the late Ag-dependent GCs are dispensable for the maintenance of Ab levels and B cell memory.