When designing vaccines, consider the starting material: the human B cell repertoire

Curr Opin Immunol. 2018 Aug;53:209-216. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2018.08.002. Epub 2018 Sep 3.


Most viral vaccines provide protection from infection through the generation of neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). The repertoire of B cells responding to immunization is the starting material from which nAbs eventually arise. Immunization strategies are increasingly targeting precise B cell specificities to mimic nAbs generated during natural infection, in an effort to maximize the potency of the vaccine-elicited Ab response. An understanding of the human B cell specificities capable of immunogen recognition can aid in immunogen design and inform decision-making for clinical advancement. Here, we review what is known about antigen-specific and epitope-specific naive B cell repertoires in humans and mice, and we consider the challenges for identifying and analyzing antigen-specific naive B cell repertoires. Finally, we provide a framework for further exploration, interpretation, utilization of the B cell repertoire to facilitate vaccine discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / metabolism
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / metabolism
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Epitopes
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Viral Vaccines