Expansion of IgG+ B-cells during mitogen stimulation for memory B-cell ELISpot analysis is influenced by size and composition of the B-cell pool
SourcePLoS One, 9, 7, (2014), article e102885
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
The memory B-cell (MBC) ELISpot assay is the main technique used to measure antigen-specific MBCs as a readout of humoral immune memory. This assay relies on the ability of MBCs to differentiate into antibody-secreting cells (ASC) upon polyclonal stimulation. The total number of IgG+ ASCs generated by mitogen-stimulation is often used as a reference point; alternatively antigen-specific MBCs are expressed as a frequency of post-culture peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) as a surrogate for absolute frequencies. Therefore, it is important to know whether IgG+ B-cells are uniformly expanded during the preceding mitogen-culture as a true reflection of MBC frequencies ex vivo. We systematically compared B-cell phenotype and proportions before and after mitogen stimulation in cultures of 269 peripheral blood mononuclear cell samples from 62 volunteers by flow cytometry and analyzed the number of resulting ASCs. Our data show that the number of total IgG+ ASCs detected by ELISpot after mitogen stimulation correlates with the proportion of IgG+ MBCs ex vivo, highlighting its general robustness for comparisons of study cohorts at group level. The expansion of total and IgG+ B-cells during mitogen-stimulation, however, was not identical in all cultures, but influenced by size and composition of the ex vivo B-cell compartment. The uncorrected readout of antigen-specific MBCs per million post-culture PBMCs therefore only preserves the quality, but not the magnitude of differences in the ex vivo MBC response between groups or time points, particularly when comparing samples where the B-cell compartment substantially differs between cohorts or over time. Therefore, expressing antigen-specific cells per total IgG+ ASCs is currently the best measure to correct for mitogen-culture effects. Additionally, baseline information on the size and composition of the ex vivo B-cell compartment should be supplied to additionally inform about differences or changes in the size and composition of the ex vivo MBC compartment.
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