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Eur J Immunol. 2000 Oct;30(10):2918-23.

CD5-positive B cells in healthy elderly humans are a polyclonal B cell population.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital of the JWG-University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) is a disease of the elderly and is characterized by a malignant clone of CD5+ B cells. In old mice, clonal expansions of CD5+ B cells are a common feature, and these animals frequently develop B-CLL. To investigate whether clonal expansion of CD5+ B cells also occurs in elderly humans, predisposing for the development of B-CLL, we analyzed VH gene rearrangements of CD5+ B cells from blood samples of four healthy, 65-82-years-old volunteers as markers of clonality. CD5+ and CD5-B cells were obtained by cell sorting, CDRIII of rearranged VH genes were amplified by polymerase chain reaction, and fragment length analysis was performed. All samples demonstrated a polyclonal pattern of VH gene length distribution. In addition, VH gene rearrangements were amplified and sequenced from sorted single cells of two of the donors. No clonally related CD5+ or CD5- B cells were observed. Thus, development of dominant clones of CD5+ peripheral blood B cells is unlikely to be a common trait of elderly individuals.

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