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Blood. 1999 Jul 15;94(2):701-12.

Reactive plasmacytoses are expansions of plasmablasts retaining the capacity to differentiate into plasma cells.

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INSERM U463, Laboratoire Central d'Hématologie, Institut de Biologie, Service d'Hématologie Clinique, Hôtel-Dieu, Nantes, France.


Circulating plasma cells in 10 cases of reactive plasmacytosis had a shared phenotype with early plasma cell (CD19(+) CD38(+) CD138(+) CD40(+) CD45(+) CD11a+ CD49e- CD56(-)). In most cases, a minor subpopulation of CD28(+) plasma cells was also detected. Reactive plasma cells were highly proliferative, suggesting the presence of circulating progenitors (plasmablasts). After CD138(+) plasma cell removal, highly proliferative CD138(-) plasmablasts differentiated into CD138(+) plasma cells within a few days. This differentiation, which was associated with increased CD38 and decreased HLA-DR expression, was further confirmed by a large increase in intracellular Ig content (associated with Ig secretion) and was concomitant with extensive secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6). The addition of neutralizing anti-IL-6 and anti-CD126 (IL-6 receptor) monoclonal antibodies totally prevented Ig secretion and cell differentiation by inducing apoptosis of plasmablasts, which indicates that IL-6 is an essential survival factor for plasmablasts. This report provides the first characterization of normal plasmablasts and shows that their phenotype is not exactly that of multiple myeloma cells.

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