The ageing B cell population: composition and function

Biogerontology. 2010 Apr;11(2):125-37. doi: 10.1007/s10522-009-9256-9. Epub 2009 Nov 25.


Age-related changes in the structure and function of the immune system, collectively termed immunosenescence, result in poor responses to infections, increased susceptibility to cancers and increased incidence of autoimmune diseases. The humoral immune response, maintained by the B cell compartment, has a key role in an effective immune system-not only in producing high affinity antibodies that are crucial for vaccination strategies, but in assisting other components of the immune system in their function. Hence an understanding of B cell immunosenescence in particular is vital in designing strategies to combat the effects of age on immune function. Numerous studies have been undertaken using small animal models in order to understand immunosenescence, and these have contributed greatly to our understanding of the events that underpin impaired immune responses. However, there are key differences between the human and the mouse and a clear understanding of these differences is required when extrapolating from one species to the other. In this article we present an overview of B cell development and summarise current data on age-related B cell changes, at both the population level and at the individual mechanistic level. Areas of similarity and difference between human and mouse models are highlighted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal