Senescence leads to the appearance of atrophic follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) that trap and retain little immune complexes (IC), generate few memory B cells, and induce a reduced number of germinal centers (GC). Deficiencies in antibody responses to T cell dependent exogenous antigens such as pneumonia and influenza vaccines may reflect intrinsic FDC defects or altered FDC-B cell interactions. We recently studied antigen handling capacity and co-stimulatory activity of old FDCs and determined age-related changes in the expression or function of FcgammaRII or CR1&2 on FDCs. Here, we present an overview of FDC function in recall responses with known deficiencies in FDCs and GC development. Then, we review our recent work on aged FDCs and discuss age-related changes in molecular interactions between FDCs and B cells. We also discuss the causes underlying the impaired humoral immune response with respect to age-related molecular changes in FDC and B cell interactions. In vitro evidence suggests that FcgammaRII on aged FDCs is regulated abnormally and this in turn might cause the development of a defective FDC-network (reticulum) that retains few ICs, promotes ITIM signaling, prevents B cell proliferation and GC formation, and antibody production. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.