B-cell memory: are subsets necessary?

Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Oct;6(10):785-90. doi: 10.1038/nri1938.


B-cell memory is provided by populations of quiescent memory B cells and long-lived plasma cells. Whereas it is clear that both of these cell populations arise from germinal centres, the signals and circumstances that trigger germinal-centre B cells to enter and then persist in memory compartments are poorly defined. Here, I propose that germinal centres produce memory B cells and plasma cells throughout the immune response and that memory B cells arise by the emigration of B cells that are chosen at random from the pool available in the germinal centre. The ability of such emigrants to survive as memory B cells depends on their germinal-centre 'history', with the persistence of high-affinity B-cell variants being favoured.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Germinal Center / cytology
  • Germinal Center / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*