B Cell Activation and Response Regulation during Viral Infections

Jonathan H. Lam, Fauna L. Smith, Nicole Baumgarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Acute viral infections are characterized by rapid increases in viral load, leading to cellular damage and the resulting induction of complex innate and adaptive antiviral immune responses that cause local and systemic inflammation. Successful antiviral immunity requires the activation of many immune cells, including T cells, natural killer cells, and macrophages. B cells play a unique part through their production of antibodies that can both neutralize and clear viral particles before virus entry into a cell. Protective antibodies are produced even before the first exposure of a pathogen, through the regulated secretion of so-called natural antibodies that are generated even in the complete absence of prior microbial exposure. An early wave of rapidly secreted antibodies from extrafollicular (EF) responses draws on the preexisting naive or memory repertoire of B cells to induce a strong protective response that in kinetics tightly follows the clearance of acute infections, such as with influenza virus. Finally, the generation of germinal centers (GCs) provides long-term protection through production of long-lived plasma cells and memory B cells, which shape and broaden the B cell repertoire for more effective responses following repeat exposures. In this study, we review B cell responses to acute viral infections, primarily influenza virus, from the earliest nonspecific B-1 cell to early, antigen-specific EF responses and finally to GC responses. Throughout, we address known factors that lead to distinct B cell response outcomes and discuss how their functions effect viral clearance, highlighting the critical contributions of each response type to the induction of highly protective antiviral humoral immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-306
Number of pages13
JournalViral Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • B cell responses
  • B cells
  • B-1 cells
  • extrafollicular responses
  • germinal center responses
  • immune regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Virology


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