Research Topic

Challenging human B cell memory

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Immune memory is an essential part of an efficient immune response. Humans adapt to their environment with immune cell repertoires that provide an advantage in a given geographical region or a social network. Robust recall responses during re-infection are protective due to pre-existing antibodies that can ...

Immune memory is an essential part of an efficient immune response. Humans adapt to their environment with immune cell repertoires that provide an advantage in a given geographical region or a social network. Robust recall responses during re-infection are protective due to pre-existing antibodies that can quickly neutralize a pathogen or due to memory B and T cells that are promptly re-activated. In addition to being antigen-specific, memory B and T cells may have a specialized, possibly tissue-specific function determined by the cytokine repertoire, chemokine receptor expression and adhesion molecules expressed.

This Research Topic aims at bringing together recent research about the characterization and orchestration of human B cell responses in steady state and during antigen re-exposure. The role of B cells and the requirement of T cell help in recall responses has received scant attention, and many questions remain unanswered. Memory B cell activation can be facilitated by cross-reactive T cells, resulting in the generation of plasmablasts and antibody production. Cross-reactive T cells could also facilitate activation and expansion of naïve B cells. What is the role of memory B cells compared to long-lived plasma cells in this context? What is the specificity of “primary IgG” compared to “secondary IgG” and importantly, what is their functional relevance? What is the role of IgM memory cells in this response?

Immune memory is particularly challenged by viruses, which have the ability to adapt to their host and escape the immune response in various ways. Antibodies and T cells against conserved regions are re-activated during a new infection and might be protective to a certain extent. Despite extensive discussions in the context of influenza and recently also dengue, many aspects of the phenomenon of cross-reactive anti-viral immunity and the relevance for disease transmission are still unclear.
A better understanding of B cell repertoire dynamics in health and after re-infection could improve existing vaccine strategies, including those against viruses with multiple serotypes. Two immediate areas with direct relevance to B cell responses are in vaccination timings and the formulation of booster vaccinations.


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