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Tissue Antigens. 2001 Oct;58(4):234-42.

CD27 expression in the human splenic marginal zone: the infant marginal zone is populated by naive B cells.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


The splenic marginal zone of adult humans contains B cells, of which most express CD27, an antigen only recently identified as a marker for somatically mutated memory B cells. We investigated whether and to which extent the developing marginal zone in infants and children is populated by either memory (CD27+) or naive (CD27-) B cells. Frozen sections of 32 spleens of infants and children ranging in age from 6 days to 15 years and 6 adult spleens were investigated. The expression of CD27 in combination with monoclonal antibodies against CD3, CD21, IgM, IgD and ASM-1 was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. The marginal zone was already present at 4 months after birth but CD21 expression was observed first after 2 years. CD27-positive marginal zone B cells were observed firstly 2 years after birth and increased in number to adult levels at the age of 5 years. We demonstrated that the MZ of infants and young children is populated by naive B cells, which are replaced by memory B cells in a time frame of 2 to 5 years. Before the age of 2 years, although present, memory B cells appear to be unable to colonize the marginal zone. Because of the absence of memory B cells in the marginal zone, the immune system of a child is not capable to initiate a rapid secondary humoral immune response comparable to the adult immune response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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