Antigen-selected, immunoglobulin-secreting cells persist in human spleen and bone marrow Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Plasma cells (PCs) represent the final stage of B-cell differentiation and are devoted to the production of immunoglobulin (Ig). Perturbations to their development can result in human disorders characterized by PC expansion and hypergammaglobulinemia. Ig-secreting cells (ISCs) have been identified in secondary lymphoid tissues and bone marrow (BM). Most ISCs in lymphoid tissue are short-lived; in contrast, ISCs that migrate to the BM become long-lived PCs and continue to secrete immunoglobulin for extended periods. However, a small population of long-lived PCs has been identified in rodent spleen, suggesting that PCs may persist in secondary lymphoid tissue and that the spleen, as well as the BM, plays an important role in maintaining long-term humoral immunity. For these reasons, we examined ISCs in human spleen and identified a population that appears analogous to long-lived rodent splenic PCs. Human splenic ISCs shared morphologic, cellular, molecular, and functional characteristics with long-lived PCs in BM, demonstrating their commitment to the PC lineage. Furthermore, the detection of highly mutated immunoglobulin V region genes in splenic ISCs suggested they are likely to be antigen-selected and to secrete high-affinity immunoglobulin. Thus, our results suggest that splenic ISCs have an important role in humoral immunity and may represent the affected cell type in some B-cell dyscrasias.


  • Ellyard, Julia I
  • Avery, Danielle T
  • Phan, Tri Giang
  • Hare, Nathan J
  • Hodgkin, Philip D
  • Tangye, Stuart G

publication date

  • May 15, 2004

published in