Trypanosoma brucei brucei Infection Depletes Memory B Cells Resulting in Inability of the Host to Recall Protective B Cells Responses

Sangphil Moon, Ibo Janssens, Kyung Hyun Kim, Benoit Stijlemans, Stefan Magez, Magdalena Radwanska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Trypanosoma brucei brucei (T. b. brucei) evades host immune responses by multiple means, including the disruption of B cell homeostasis. This hampers anti-trypanosome vaccine development. As the cellular mechanism underlying this pathology has never been addressed, our study focuses on the fate of memory B cells (MBCs) in vaccinated mice upon trypanosome challenge.

METHODS: A trypanosome variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) and fluorescent phycoerythrin (PE) were used as immunization antigens. Functional and cellular characteristics of antigen-specific MBCs were studied after homologous and heterologous parasite challenge.

RESULTS: Immunization with AnTat 1.1 VSG triggers a specific antibody response and isotype-switched CD73 +CD273 +CD80 + MBCs, delivering 90% sterile protection against a homologous parasite challenge. As expected, AnTat 1.1 VSG immunization does not protect against infection with heterologous VSG-switched parasites. After successful curative drug treatment, mice were shown to have completely lost their previously induced protective immunity against the homologous parasites, coinciding with the loss of vaccine-induced MBCs. A PE immunization approach confirmed that trypanosome infections cause the general loss of antigen-specific splenic and bone marrow MBCs, and a reduction in antigen-specific IgGs.

CONCLUSION: Trypanosomosis induces general immunological memory loss. This benefits the parasites by reducing the stringency for antigenic variation requirements.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Infectious Diseases
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

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© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail:


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