Plasma cell survival in the absence of B cell memory
Pre-existing serum antibodies play an important role in vaccine-mediated protection against infection but the underlying mechanisms of immune memory are unclear. Clinical studies indicate that antigen-speciﬁc antibody responses can be maintained for many years, leading to theories that reactivation/differentiation of memory B cells into plasma cells is required to sustain long-term antibody production. Here, we present a decade-long study in which we demonstrate site-speciﬁc survival of bone marrow-derived plasma cells and durable antibody responses to multiple virus and vaccine antigens in rhesus macaques for years after sustained memory B cell depletion. Moreover, BrdU+ cells with plasma cell morphology can be detected for 10 years after vaccination/BrdU administration, indicating that plasma cells may persist for a prolonged period of time in the absence of cell division. On the basis of these results, long-lived plasma cells represent a key cell population responsible for long-term antibody production and serological memory.