Ageing of the B-cell repertoire

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Sep 5;370(1676):20140237. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0237.


Older people are more susceptible to infection, less responsive to vaccination and have a more inflammatory immune environment. Using spectratype analysis, we have previously shown that the B-cell repertoire of older people shows evidence of inappropriate clonal expansions in the absence of challenge, and that this loss of B-cell diversity correlates with poor health. Studies on response to vaccination, using both spectratyping and high-throughput sequencing of the repertoire, indicate that older responses to challenge are lacking in magnitude and/or delayed significantly. Also that some of the biologically significant differences may be in different classes of antibody. We have also previously shown that normal young B-cell repertoires can vary between different phenotypic subsets of B cells. In this paper, we present an analysis of immunoglobulin repertoire in different subclasses of antibody in five different populations of B cell, and show how the repertoire in these different groups changes with age. Although some age-related repertoire differences occur in naive cells, before exogenous antigen exposure, we see indications that there is a general dysregulation of the selective forces that shape memory B-cell populations in older people.

Keywords: B-cell memory; ageing; immunoglobulin repertoire; subclass of antibody.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Clonal Selection, Antigen-Mediated
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Class Switching
  • Immunoglobulins / genetics
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • V(D)J Recombination
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulins