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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Microbiology and Immunology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Bonnie Blomberg

Second Committee Member

Roland Jurecic

Third Committee Member

Thomas Malek

Fourth Committee Member

Nevis Fregien

Fifth Committee Member

Richard Riley

Sixth Committee Member

Pamela Witte


B lymphopoiesis in aged mice is characterized by reduced B cell precursors and an altered antibody repertoire. Aged mice maintain an ordinarily minor pool of early c-kit+ pre-B cells, indicative of poor preBCR expression, even as preBCR competent early pre-B cells are significantly reduced. Therefore, in aged mice, preBCR-mediated B2 B lymphopoiesis is significantly diminished; likely as a consequence of poor surrogate light chain expression. Notably, the remnant B1 B cell lineage present in adult bone marrow is retained in aged mice as evidenced by normal numbers (~0.3%) of Lin-CD19+B220low/- B1 B cell precursors. Of interest, B1 progenitors express substantially less lambda 5 surrogate light chain protein than do B2 pro-B cells and the surrogate light chain levels are further reduced in aged mice. B cells derived from putatively preBCR-deficient precursors, either B2 c-kit+ B cell precursors or B1 B cell progenitors, from either young or aged mice, generate new B cells in vitro that are biased to larger size, higher levels of CD43/S7, and decreased kappa light chain expression. Notably, immature B cells in aged bone marrow exhibit a similar phenotype in vivo, consistent with the changes seen in B cell precursor subpopulations. In aged mice, the B2 pathway is partially blocked with limited preBCR expression and signaling; however, continued B cell development via preBCR-deficient pathways, including B1 pathways, is observed. Increased generation of new B cells by these alternative pathways may contribute to altered phenotype, repertoire, and function in senescence.


B Cells; Aging; PreBCR; Surrogate Light Chain; Antibody Repertoire; Autoreactivity