Heavy Chain Isotype Class Switching

In response to CD40 engagement and cytokines, some of the progeny of activated IgM- and IgD-expressing B cells undergo the process of heavy chain isotype (class) switching, leading to the production of antibodies with heavy chains of different classes, such as y a, and e (Fig. 11-14). Isotype switching is observed in B cells in extrafollicular foci, driven by extrafollicular helper T cells, and much more in germinal centers, driven by TFH cells. The capacity of B cells to produce different antibody isotypes provides a remarkable plasticity in humoral immune responses by generating antibodies that perform distinct effector functions and are involved in defense against different types of infectious agents.

IgM B cell

Helper T celll

Helper T celll

IgM B cell

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