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AGEMS project

Laatste wijziging: 24 januari 2022

Effect of immune aging on B-cell populations in multiple sclerosis


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Veerle Somers, Researcher: Dr. Judith Fraussen


Aging of the immune system or immune aging occurs in older persons and in a portion of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. Immune aging of B-cells and antibodies is characterized by a reduced resistance to infection and an increased formation of auto-antibodies. Recently, several populations of immune-aged B-cells with pro-inflammatory functional properties were described, including the IgD-CD27- double negative (DN) B-cells and the CD21-CD11c+ B-cells.


We hypothesize that immune-age B-cells contribute to the disease process in MS by autoreactive and pro-inflammatory effects. The proportion of different populations of immune- aged B-cells is determined in the peripheral blood (PBMC) of MS patients and healthy individuals, as well as in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of MS patients and neurological control patients. Further characterization of immune-aged B-cells will be carried out. The B-cell (receptor) genes and functional gene pathways will be studied using molecular DNA techniques. Finally, the functional capacities of immune-aged B-cells will be analyzed by functional in vitro and ex vivo assays, for instance looking at cytokine and antibody production. This study will give a better understanding of the effects of aging on B-cell immunity in MS. This can lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies, not only for MS, but also for other B-cell-associated auto-immune disorders