Effect of age on the expressed B cell repertoire: Role of B cell subsets

A. Hu, D. Ehleiter, A. Ben-yehuda, R. Schwab, C. Russo, P. Szabo, M. E. Weksler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Aged humans and experimental animals are impaired in their responses to most foreign antigens although they produce greater amounts of autoantibodies. We have examined the effect of age on the production of antibodies to a prototypic foreign antigen, sheep erythrocytes (SRBC), and to a prototypic autoantigen, bromelain-treated mouse erythrocytes (BrMRBC), in young and old ice before and after immunization with SRBC. Old mice express more anti-BrMRBC plaqueforming cell (PFC) antibodies before and an even greater number after immunization with SRBC than young mice. Conversely, old mice produce far fewer anti-SRBC PFC than young mice following immunization with SRBC. We hypothesized that the differences in the responses of old mice to BrMRBC and SRBC reflects differences in the activity of CD5+ and CD5- B cells. To test this hypothesis we immunized young and old mice with foreign antigens reported (and confirmed in our studies) to stimulate CD5+ B cells [TNP-ficoll and phosphorylcholine - keyhole limpet hemocyanln (KLH)] or CD5- B cells (SRBC and TNP-KLH). We found that the PFC response of old mice to antigens mediated by CD5+ B cells was equal to or greater than that of young mice. In contrast the PFC response of old mice induced by antigens mediated by CD5+ B cells was only 10% that of young mice. Thus it appears that the immune response of old mice is well maintained for antigens which elicit a CD5+ B cell response but not for those which elicit a CD5- B cell response. This conclusion is supported by our finding that a higher percentage of splenic B cells from old compared to young mice express that VH11 lgh gene family. This VH gene family is preferentially expressed by CD5+ B cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1039
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • CD5+ B cells
  • Foreign antigens
  • Immune senescence
  • Mice


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