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Antibody Levels Poorly Reflect on the Frequency of Memory B Cells Generated following SARS-CoV-2, Seasonal Influenza, or EBV Infection.


Authors: Carla Wolf, Sebastian Köppert, Noémi Becza, Stefanie Kuerten, Greg A Kirchenbaum, Paul V Lehmann

The scope of immune monitoring is to define the existence, magnitude, and quality of immune mechanisms operational in a host. In clinical trials and praxis, the assessment of humoral immunity is commonly confined to measurements of serum antibody reactivity without accounting for the memory B cell potential. Relying on fundamentally different mechanisms, however, passive immunity conveyed by pre-existing antibodies needs to be distinguished from active B cell memory. Here, we tested whether, in healthy human individuals, the antibody titers to SARS-CoV-2, seasonal influenza, or Epstein-Barr virus antigens correlated with the frequency of recirculating memory B cells reactive with the respective antigens. Weak correlations were found. The data suggest that the assessment of humoral immunity by measurement of antibody levels does not reflect on memory B cell frequencies and thus an individual's potential to engage in an anamnestic antibody response against the same or an antigenically related virus. Direct monitoring of the antigen-reactive memory B cell compartment is both required and feasible towards that goal.

PMID: 36429090

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