Memory B cells and tuberculosis

Konstantin P. Lyashchenko*, H. Martin Vordermeier, W. Ray Waters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


Immunological memory is a central feature of adaptive immunity. Memory B cells are generated upon stimulation with antigen presented by follicular dendritic cells in the peripheral lymphoid tissues. This process typically involves class-switch recombination and somatic hypermutation and it can be dependent or independent on germinal centers or T cell help. The mature B cell memory pool is generally characterized by remarkable heterogeneity of functionally and phenotypically distinct sub-populations supporting multi-layer immune plasticity. Memory B cells found in human patients infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis include IgD+ CD27+ and IgM+ CD27+ subsets. In addition, expansion of atypical memory B cells characterized by the lack of CD27 expression and by inability to respond to antigen-induced re-activation is documented in human tuberculosis. These functionally impaired memory B cells are believed to have adverse effects on host immunity. Human and animal studies demonstrate recruitment of antigen-activated B cells to the infection sites and their presence in lung granulomas where proliferating B cells are organized into discrete clusters resembling germinal centers of secondary lymphoid organs. Cattle studies show development of IgM+, IgG+, and IgA+ memory B cells in M. bovis infection with the ability to rapidly differentiate into antibody-producing plasma cells upon antigen re-exposure. This review discusses recent advances in research on generation, re-activation, heterogeneity, and immunobiological functions of memory B cells in tuberculosis. The role of memory B cells in post-skin test recall antibody responses in bovine tuberculosis and implications for development of improved immunodiagnostics are also reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110016
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Early online date02 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2020


  • Antibody response
  • B cells
  • Immunological memory
  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Humans
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Tuberculosis/immunology
  • Tuberculin/administration & dosage


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