Molecular fate-mapping of serum antibody responses to repeat immunization

Nature. 2023 Mar;615(7952):482-489. doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05715-3. Epub 2023 Jan 16.


The protective efficacy of serum antibodies results from the interplay of antigen-specific B cell clones of different affinities and specificities. These cellular dynamics underlie serum-level phenomena such as original antigenic sin (OAS)-a proposed propensity of the immune system to rely repeatedly on the first cohort of B cells engaged by an antigenic stimulus when encountering related antigens, in detriment to the induction of de novo responses1-5. OAS-type suppression of new, variant-specific antibodies may pose a barrier to vaccination against rapidly evolving viruses such as influenza and SARS-CoV-26,7. Precise measurement of OAS-type suppression is challenging because cellular and temporal origins cannot readily be ascribed to antibodies in circulation; its effect on subsequent antibody responses therefore remains unclear5,8. Here we introduce a molecular fate-mapping approach with which serum antibodies derived from specific cohorts of B cells can be differentially detected. We show that serum responses to sequential homologous boosting derive overwhelmingly from primary cohort B cells, while later induction of new antibody responses from naive B cells is strongly suppressed. Such 'primary addiction' decreases sharply as a function of antigenic distance, allowing reimmunization with divergent viral glycoproteins to produce de novo antibody responses targeting epitopes that are absent from the priming variant. Our findings have implications for the understanding of OAS and for the design and testing of vaccines against evolving pathogens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • Vaccination
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines