Insights into the regulatory mechanism controlling the inhibition of vaccine-induced seroconversion by maternal antibodies

Blood. 2011 Jun 9;117(23):6143-51. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-11-320317. Epub 2011 Feb 28.


The inhibition of vaccination by maternal antibodies is a widely observed phenomenon in human and veterinary medicine. Maternal antibodies are known to suppress the B-cell response. This is similar to antibody feedback mechanism studies where passively transferred antibody inhibits the B-cell response against particulate antigens because of epitope masking. In the absence of experimental data addressing the mechanism underlying inhibition by maternal antibodies, it has been suggested that epitope masking explains the inhibition by maternal antibodies, too. Here we report that in the cotton rat model of measles virus (MV) vaccination passively transferred MV-specific immunoglobulin G inhibit B-cell responses through cross-linking of the B-cell receptor with FcγRIIB. The extent of inhibition increases with the number of antibodies engaging FcγRIIB and depends on the Fc region of antibody and its isotype. This inhibition can be partially overcome by injection of MV-specific monoclonal IgM antibody. IgM stimulates the B-cell directly through cross-linking the B-cell receptor via complement protein 3d and antigen to the complement receptor 2 signaling complex. These data demonstrate that maternal antibodies inhibit B-cell responses by interaction with the inhibitory/regulatory FcγRIIB receptor and not through epitope masking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Complement C3d / immunology
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin M / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Capping / drug effects
  • Immunologic Capping / immunology
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / drug effects
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology*
  • Measles Vaccine / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Complement 3d / immunology
  • Receptors, IgG / immunology
  • Sigmodontinae
  • Vaccination*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Epitopes
  • Fcgr3 protein, mouse
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Measles Vaccine
  • Receptors, Complement 3d
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Complement C3d