Delayed and deficient establishment of the long-term bone marrow plasma cell pool during early life

Eur J Immunol. 2001 Mar;31(3):939-46. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200103)31:3<939::aid-immu939>;2-i.


Early life antibody responses are characterized by a rapid decline, such that antigen-specific IgG antibodies decline to baseline levels within months following infant immunization. This generic observation remains unexplained. Here, we have analyzed the induction and organ-localization of antigen-specific IgG antibody-secreting cells (ASC) following immunization of 1-week-old or adult BALB/c mice with tetanus toxoid (TT), a T-dependent antigen. Early life priming induced only slightly lower numbers of TT-specific IgG ASC in the spleen, and these reached adult levels following repeat immunization. In contrast, early life immunization generated much fewer bone marrow plasma cells than in adults, even after boosting. A similar limitation of the natural development of the bone marrow pool of ASC was observed. Transfer experiments with adult or early life spleen ASC indicated limited homing of TT-specific adult ASC to the bone marrow of 4-week-old mice as compared to adult recipients, whereas homing patterns were similar when early life or adult ASC were transferred into adult recipients. These observations suggest that a limited bone marrow B cell homing capacity and, as a result, relatively deficient bone marrow ASC responses, are critical factors which may explain the limited persistence of IgG antibodies to T-dependent antigens in early life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology*
  • Cell Movement
  • Female
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plasma Cells / immunology*
  • Plasma Cells / transplantation
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Tetanus Toxoid / immunology
  • Time Factors


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Tetanus Toxoid