Maturation and dispersal of B-cell clones during T cell-dependent antibody responses

Immunol Rev. 1992 Apr;126:143-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065x.1992.tb00635.x.


Germinal centers develop in follicles during TD antibody responses in the first 3 wk following each immunization. In primary responses to protein-based antigens, T-cell help is limiting, follicles develop towards the end of the 1st wk from immunization and the size of the follicular response in relatively small. When T-cell help is provided the primary B-cell response in follicles is much larger, B cells start to proliferate in follicles within a few hours of immunization and reach peak size 3-4 d later. Available evidence suggests that virgin B cells that colonize follicles to form germinal centers must first be activated by antigen outside follicles, probably in T zones. Memory B cells also proliferate in follicles and they can do so without first being activated outside follicles. Germinal center formation consists of an initial phase of exponential proliferation of B cells within the follicular dendritic cell network. After a single immunization the follicular response is oligoclonal and on average only 3 cells colonize each follicle. In responses to hapten-protein in rats primed previously with the carrier protein these 3 cells increase to around 10(4) cells in 3 d with a cell cycle time of about 6 h. At the end of the period of exponential growth of B blasts, the classical structure of germinal centers emerges. The B blasts become centroblasts in the dark zone of the germinal center which develops at that pole of the FDC network nearer the T zones. The centroblasts are still in rapid cell cycle but do not more than sustain their numbers. The rest of their progeny move to the heart of the FDC network where they come out of cell cycle as centrocytes. Evidence is cited which indicates that somatic mutation occurs in the Ig V-region genes of centroblasts and that centrocytes are selected on the basis of their ability to respond to antigen held on FDC. Centrocytes not receiving this antigen-dependent signal kill themselves by apoptosis. Centrocytes positively selected by interaction with antigen on FDC receive further signals which induce the cells to differentiate to become either plasma cells or memory B cells. The nature of some of these differentiation signals is described. It is shown that proliferation, selection and differentiation occur within germinal centers in distinct micro-environments.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Clone Cells
  • Germ Cells / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*