Memory B cells and pneumococcal antibody after splenectomy
Splenectomized patients are susceptible to bloodstream infections with encapsulated bacteria, potentially due to loss of blood filtering but also defective production of anticarbohydrate Ab. Recent studies propose that a lack of Ab is related to reduced numbers of IgM(+) CD27(+) memory B cells found after splenectomy. To test this, we analyzed CD27(+) memory B cell subsets, IgG, and IgM pneumococcal Ab responses in 26 vaccinated splenectomized subjects in comparison to memory B cell subsets and Ab responses in healthy controls. As shown previously, the splenectomized autoimmune subjects had fewer total, isotype switched, and IgM(+) CD27(+) memory B cells as compared with controls, but there was no difference in memory B cells subsets between controls and splenectomized subjects with spherocytosis. There was no difference between the geometric mean IgG Ab response between normal controls and splenectomized subjects (p = 0.51; p = 0.81). Control subjects produced more IgM Ab than splenectomized autoimmune subjects (p = 0.01) but the same levels as subjects with spherocytosis (p = 0.15.) There was no correlation between memory B cell subsets and IgG or IgM Ab responses for controls or splenectomized subjects. These data suggest that splenectomy alone may not be the sole reason for loss of memory B cells and reduced IgM antipneumococcal Ab. Because subjects with autoimmunity had splenectomy at a significantly older age than participants with spherocytosis, these data suggest that an age-related loss of extra splenic sites necessary for the maintenance or function of memory B cells may lead to impaired immunity in these subjects.