The effect of age on the B-cell repertoire

J Clin Immunol. 2000 Jul;20(4):240-9. doi: 10.1023/a:1006659401385.


The antibody repertoire changes with age. This change reflects, in part, the age-associated impairment in the production of a diverse population of naive B cells in the bone marrow and, in part, by the decreased diversification of B cells in the germinal center where affinity maturation and isotype switching takes place. B cell number is strictly regulated and despite the decreased output of B cells by the bone marrow does not decline during aging. Self-renewal of peripheral B cells is sufficient to assure the stability of peripheral B cell number. However, when B cell production is stressed as, for example, following drug-induced lymphopenia, the rate of recovery of B cell number as well as of B cell diversity is compromised in old compared to young mice. Finally, aging is associated with the appearance of B cell clonal expansions which not only limit the diversity of the B cell repertoire but very likely give rise to monoclonal serum immunoglobulins and B cell neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / biosynthesis
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow / growth & development
  • Cell Division
  • Clone Cells / pathology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte
  • Germinal Center / cytology
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphopenia / immunology
  • Lymphopenia / pathology
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Autoantibodies