Reassessing Germinal Centre Reaction Concepts

  • Jose Faro
  • Michal Or-Guil


To determine the number of B cells seeding germinal centres, different authors have used immunohistology of germinal centre sections in conjunction with assuming a binomial distribution of the fractions of two phenotypically distinct B cell populations participating in a given immune response. This approach further assumed that germinal centres are closed to continuous B cell entry. Using such a model, it has been concluded that germinal centres contain two to eight clones, a figure that is usually taken and cited as being essentially correct. The present re-evaluation of those and related experiments lead to an extended mathematical model. This model includes an estimation of errors created by data sampling, two new parameters that take into account possible mistakes in classification of single population GC sections, and the likely variability in the number of seeding B cells. Fitting this new model to experimental data resulted in an estimated mean number of ⟨n⟩ = 23–37 seeder B cells.


Germinal Center Clonal Diversity Primary Immune Response Thoracic Duct Lymphocyte Cell Clonal Diversity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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This work was supported by grants SAF2007-63152 (MICINN, Spain) and PIRSES-GA-2008-230665 (7th FP, EC) to JF and by the BMBF (grant 0315005B) and the VolkswagenStiftung to MOG. The authors wish to thank R. Ribeiro and V. Ganusov for critical reading of the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edificio de Ciencias ExperimentáisUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain
  2. 2.Estudos Avançados de OeirasInstituto Gulbenkian de CiênciaOeirasPortugal

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