History, applications, and challenges of immune repertoire research

Cell Biol Toxicol. 2018 Dec;34(6):441-457. doi: 10.1007/s10565-018-9426-0. Epub 2018 Feb 27.


The diversity of T and B cells in terms of their receptor sequences is huge in the vertebrate's immune system and provides broad protection against the vast diversity of pathogens. Immune repertoire is defined as the sum of T cell receptors and B cell receptors (also named immunoglobulin) that makes the organism's adaptive immune system. Before the emergence of high-throughput sequencing, the studies on immune repertoire were limited by the underdeveloped methodologies, since it was impossible to capture the whole picture by the low-throughput tools. The massive paralleled sequencing technology suits perfectly the researches on immune repertoire. In this article, we review the history of immune repertoire studies, in terms of technologies and research applications. Particularly, we discuss several aspects of challenges in this field and highlight the efforts to develop potential solutions, in the era of high-throughput sequencing of the immune repertoire.

Keywords: BCR; High-throughput sequencing; Immune repertoire; TCR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunity / genetics*
  • Immunity / physiology*
  • Immunotherapy / history
  • Immunotherapy / trends*
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / physiology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell