Age-related changes in humoral immunity are responsible for the reduced vaccine responses observed in elderly individuals. Although aging has been shown to affect T cells, dendritic cells and macrophages and these effects significantly impact humoral responses, intrinsic alterations in B cells also occur. We here provide an overview of age-related changes in mouse B cells. In particular, we summarize data from the literature showing age-related changes in B cell differentiation in the bone marrow, in B cell marker expression and cell survival in the periphery and in the ability to make specific antibodies in both splenic and mucosal tissues. Moreover, we summarize the results from our studies showing that the ability to undergo class switch recombination, the enzyme activation-induced cytidine deaminase and the transcription factor E47 are all decreased in stimulated B cells from old mice. The defects presented in this review for aged B cells should allow the discovery of strategies for improvement of humoral immune responses in both humans and mice in the near future.
Keywords: Aging, Differentiation, Lymphoid tissue, Function, Immunity