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I understand that when naive B cells are exposed to antigens, they become memory B cells, but what is the functional difference between the two? I've looked at the quite a few article on B cells, but none of them stated the difference clearly enough for me to understand.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The main difference is that memory B cells start an immune reaction much more effective and faster than naive B cells. The reaction is also specific towards the antigen.

The memory B cell has a specific membrane receptor for an antigen. It produces specific antibodies only when exposed to the antigen.


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Thank you! This was very helpful. – William Bass Apr 20 '14 at 19:03

Naive B cells have not yet been trained by the immune system to recognize specific antigens -therefore the term "naive". Prior to antigen exposure, they must be trained in the bone marrow to recognize certain antigens.

Memory B cells, on the other hand, are formed after antigen exposure and clonal selection. As stated above, they have specific receptors for antigens and can produce antibodies.

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They are actually not trained in the bone marrow, but in germinal centers in the lymphatic tissues. – Chris Jun 4 '14 at 19:52

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