• B cells;
  • Cell differentiation;
  • Immune responses;
  • Immune regulation


Rapidly induced, specific Ab generated in extrafollicular foci are important components of early immune protection to influenza virus. The signal(s) that prompt B cells to participate in extrafollicular rather than germinal center responses are incompletely understood. To study the regulation of early B-cell differentiation events following influenza infection, we exploited earlier findings of a strong contribution of C12 idiotype-expressing B cells to the primary HA-specific response against influenza A/PR/8/34. Using an idiotype-specific mAb to C12 and labeled HA, in conjunction with multicolor flow cytometry, we followed the fate of C12Id-expressing influenza HA-specific B cells in WT BALB/c mice, requiring neither genetic manipulation nor adoptive cell transfer. Our studies demonstrate that HA-specific C12Id+ B cells are phenotypically indistinguishable from follicular B cells. While they induced both extrafollicular and germinal center responses, extrafollicular responses were strongly predominant. Provision of increased HA-specific T-cell help increased the magnitude of the extrafollicular response, but did not shift the C12Id+ response toward germinal center formation. Collectively the data are consistent with the hypothesis that B-cell fate determination following activation is a stochastic process in which infection-induced innate signals might drive the preferential expansion of the early extrafollicular response.