Basophils enhance immunological memory responses

Nat Immunol. 2008 Jul;9(7):733-42. doi: 10.1038/ni.1621. Epub 2008 May 30.


The cellular basis of immunological memory remains a controversial issue. Here we show that basophils bound large amounts of intact antigens on their surface and were the main source of interleukins 6 and 4 in the spleen and bone marrow after restimulation with a soluble antigen. Depletion of basophils resulted in a much lower humoral memory response and greater susceptibility of immunized mice to sepsis induced by Streptococcus pneumoniae. Adoptive transfer of antigen-reactive basophils significantly increased specific antibody production, and activated basophils, together with CD4(+) T cells, profoundly enhanced B cell proliferation and immunoglobulin production. These basophil-dependent effects on B cells required interleukins 6 and 4 and increased the capacity of CD4(+) T cells to provide B cell help. Thus, basophils are important contributors to humoral memory immune responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Basophils / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-4