Ageing, autoimmunity and arthritis: senescence of the B cell compartment - implications for humoral immunity

Arthritis Res Ther. 2004;6(4):131-9. doi: 10.1186/ar1180. Epub 2004 May 10.


Immunosenescence is associated with a decline in both T and B lymphocyte function. Although aged individuals have normal numbers of B cells in the periphery and are capable of mounting robust humoral responses, the antibodies produced are generally of lower affinity and are less protective than those produced by young animals. Here we review multiple studies that address the mechanisms that contribute to this decline. Taken together, these studies suggest that age-associated loss of the ability to generate protective humoral immunity results in part from reduced B lymphopoiesis. As the output of new, naïve B cells declines, homeostatic pressures presumably force the filling of the peripheral B cell pool by long-lived antigen-experienced cells. Because the antibody repertoire of these cells is restricted by previous antigenic experience, they make poor quality responses to new immunologic insults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / physiology*
  • Arthritis / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / physiology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Humans