The germinal center antibody response in health and disease

  • DeFranco A
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<p>The germinal center response is the delayed but sustained phase of the antibody response that is responsible for producing high-affinity antibodies of the IgG, IgA and/or IgE isotypes. B cells in the germinal center undergo re-iterative cycles of somatic hypermutation of immunoglobulin gene variable regions, clonal expansion, and Darwinian selection for cells expressing higher-affinity antibody variants. Alternatively, selected B cells can terminally differentiate into long-lived plasma cells or into a broad diversity of mutated memory B cells; the former secrete the improved antibodies to fight an infection and to provide continuing protection from re-infection, whereas the latter may jumpstart immune responses to subsequent infections with related but distinct infecting agents. Our understanding of the molecules involved in the germinal center reaction has been informed by studies of human immunodeficiency patients with selective defects in the production of antibodies. Recent studies have begun to reveal how innate immune recognition via Toll-like receptors can enhance the magnitude and selective properties of the germinal center, leading to more effective control of infection by a subset of viruses. Just as early insights into the nature of the germinal center found application in the development of the highly successful conjugate vaccines, more recent insights may find application in the current efforts to develop new generations of vaccines, including vaccines that can induce broadly protective neutralizing antibodies against influenza virus or HIV-1.</p>




DeFranco, A. L. (2016). The germinal center antibody response in health and disease. F1000Research, 5, 999.

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