B cell immunosenescence: different features of naive and memory B cells in elderly

Biogerontology. 2011 Oct;12(5):473-83. doi: 10.1007/s10522-011-9353-4. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


Elderly people show a reduced protection against new infections and a decreased response to vaccines as a consequence of impairment of both cellular and humoral immunity. In this paper we have studied memory/naïve B cells in the elderly, evaluating surface immunoglobulin expression, production of the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-10, and presence of somatic hypermutation, focusing on the IgG(+)IgD(-)CD27(-) double negative (DN) B cells that are expanded in the elderly. Our results show that naïve B cells from young donors need a sufficiently strong stimulus to be activated "in vitro", while naïve B cells from old subjects are able to produce IL-10 and TNF-α when stimulated "physiologically" (α-CD40/IL-4), suggesting that these cells might play a role in the control of the immuno-inflammatory environment in the elderly. In addition, in the elderly there is an accumulation of DN B cells with a reduced rate of somatic hypermutation. Thus, DN B lymphocytes may be exhausted cells that are expanded and accumulate as a by-product of persistent stimulation or impaired germinal center formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cellular Senescence / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / immunology
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Ionomycin / pharmacology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Middle Aged
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Interleukin-10
  • Ionomycin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate