Vaccine-induced memory B cell responses to evolving viruses like influenza A involve activation of pre-existing immunity and generation of new responses. To define the contribution of these two types of responses, we analyzed the response to H7N9 vaccination in H7N9-naive adults. We performed comprehensive comparisons at the single-cell level of the kinetics, Ig repertoire, and activation phenotype of established pre-existing memory B cells recognizing conserved epitopes and the newly generated memory B cells directed toward H7 strain-specific epitopes. The recall response to conserved epitopes on H7 HA involved a transient expansion of memory B cells with little observed adaptation. However, the B cell response to newly encountered epitopes was phenotypically distinct and generated a sustained memory population that evolved and affinity matured months after vaccination. These findings establish clear differences between newly generated and pre-existing memory B cells, highlighting the challenges in achieving long-lasting, broad protection against an ever-evolving virus.
Keywords: H7N9; Ig repertoire; Tbet; activated B cells; hemagglutinin; influenza; memory B cells; vaccine response.
Published by Elsevier Inc.