Transient reduction in IgA+ and IgG+ memory B cell numbers in young EBV-seropositive children: the Generation R Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Diana van den Heuvel
  • Michelle A E Jansen
  • Vincent W V Jaddoe
  • Jacques J M van Dongen
  • Henriette A Moll
  • Menno C van Zelm

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Department of Immunology, Erasmus Medical Center, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • The Generation R Study Group, Erasmus Medical Center, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Department of Pediatrics, Erasmus Medical Center-Sophia, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.


The EBV is known to persist in memory B cells, but it remains unclear how this affects cell numbers and humoral immunity. We here studied EBV persistence in memory B cell subsets and consequences on B cell memory in young children. EBV genome loads were quantified in 6 memory B cell subsets in EBV(+) adults. The effects of EBV infection on memory B cell numbers and vaccination responses were studied longitudinally in children within the Generation R population cohort between 14 mo and 6 yr of age. EBV genomes were more numerous in CD27(+)IgG(+), CD27(+)IgA(+), and CD27(-)IgA(+) memory B cells than in IgM-only, natural effector, and CD27(-)IgG(+) B cells. The blood counts of IgM-only, CD27(+)IgA(+), CD27(-)IgG(+), and CD27(+)IgG(+) memory B cells were significantly lower in EBV(+) children than in uninfected controls at 14 mo of age-the age when these cells peak in numbers. At 6 yr, all of these memory B cell counts had normalized, as had plasma IgG levels to previous primary measles and booster tetanus vaccinations. In conclusion, EBV persists predominantly in Ig class-switched memory B cells, even when derived from T cell-independent responses (CD27(-)IgA(+)), and EBV infection results in a transient depletion of these cells in young children.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-956
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number4
Early online date7 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • pediatric infection, herpes virus, humoral immunity, Epstein-Barr virus