Germinal Centers

Annu Rev Immunol. 2022 Apr 26:40:413-442. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-120419-022408. Epub 2022 Feb 3.


Germinal centers (GCs) are microanatomical sites of B cell clonal expansion and antibody affinity maturation. Therein, B cells undergo the Darwinian process of somatic diversification and affinity-driven selection of immunoglobulins that produces the high-affinity antibodies essential for effective humoral immunity. Here, we review recent developments in the field of GC biology, primarily as it pertains to GCs induced by infection or immunization. First, we summarize the phenotype and function of the different cell types that compose the GC, focusing on GC B cells. Then, we review the cellular and molecular bases of affinity-dependent selection within the GC and the export of memory and plasma cells. Finally, we present an overview of the emerging field of GC clonal dynamics, focusing on how GC and post-GC selection shapes the diversity of antibodies secreted into serum.

Keywords: B cell; Tfh cell; affinity maturation; antibody; cellular dynamics; clonal dynamics; germinal center.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Antibody Affinity
  • B-Lymphocytes*
  • Germinal Center*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral


  • Antibodies