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J Immunol. 2001 Oct 1;167(7):3610-8.

Bm1-Bm5 classification of peripheral blood B cells reveals circulating germinal center founder cells in healthy individuals and disturbance in the B cell subpopulations in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome.

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  • 1Institute of Immunology and Centre for Rheumatic Disease, Rikshospitalet, University Hospital, University of Oslo, N-0027 Oslo, Norway.


Analyses of B cells in the bone marrow and secondary lymphoid tissues have revealed a broad range of cell surface markers defining B cell subpopulations, but only a few of these have been used to analyze B cell subpopulations in peripheral blood (PB). We report here the delineation of circulating PB B cell subpopulations by staining for CD19, CD38, and IgD in combination with CD10, CD44, CD77, CD95, CD23, IgM, and the B cell memory marker CD27. The utility of this approach is shown by the demonstration of disturbances of circulating B cell subpopulations in patients with autoimmune disease. Five mature B cell (Bm) subpopulations were identified in normal PB that were comparable with the tonsillar Bm1, Bm2, early Bm5, Bm5 subpopulations and, surprisingly, to the germinal center (GC) founder cell subpopulation (Bm2' and Bm3delta-4delta), suggesting that some GC founder cells are circulating. No PB B cells resembled the Bm3 and Bm4 GC cells. Remarkably, some cells with the CD38-IgD+ phenotype, previously known as naive Bm1 cells, expressed CD27. The CD38-IgD+ subpopulation therefore includes both naive Bm1 cells and IgD+ memory B cells. This new classification of B cell developmental stages reveals disturbances in the proportions of B cell subpopulations in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) patients compared with healthy donors and rheumatoid arthritis patients. Patients with pSS contained a significantly higher percentage of B cells in two activated stages, which might reflect a disturbance in B cell trafficking and/or alteration in B cell differentiation. These findings could be of diagnostic significance for pSS.

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