Distinct T helper cell dependence of memory B-cell proliferation versus plasma cell differentiation.
Zabel F., Fettelschoss A., Vogel M., Johansen P., Kündig TM., Bachmann MF.
Several memory B-cell subclasses with distinct functions have been described, of which the most effective is the class-switched (CS) memory B-cell population. We have previously shown, using virus-like particles (VLPs), that the proliferative potential of these CS memory B cells is limited and they fail to re-enter germinal centres (GCs). However, VLP-specific memory B cells quickly differentiated into secondary plasma cells (PCs) with the virtue of elevated antibody production compared with primary PCs. Whereas the induction of VLP(+) memory B cells was strongly dependent on T helper cells, we were wondering whether re-stimulation of VLP(+) memory B cells and their differentiation into secondary PCs would also require T helper cells. Global absence of T helper cells led to strongly impaired memory B cell proliferation and PC differentiation. In contrast, lack of interleukin-21 receptor-dependent follicular T helper cells or CD40 ligand signalling strongly affected proliferation of memory B cells, but differentiation into mature secondary PCs exhibiting increased antibody production was essentially normal. This contrasts with primary B-cell responses, where a strong dependence on CD40 ligand but limited importance of interleukin-21 receptor was seen. Hence, T helper cell dependence differs between primary and secondary B-cell responses as well as between memory B-cell proliferation and PC differentiation.