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Immunology. 2005 Nov;116(3):308-17.

T cells are required for the peripheral phase of B-cell maturation.

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Institute of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade Medical School, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro.


B-lymphocyte maturation is considered to be independent of the thymus. However, there is circumstantial evidence suggesting that it may be impaired in nude animals that lack the thymus. Our study shows that the proportion of immature B-lymphocyte subsets (CD90(high) IgM(high) and CD90(high) IgM(low)) was significantly increased, whereas that of mature B-lymphocyte subsets (CD90- IgM(low) and CD90- IgM(high)) was decreased in the blood and lymph nodes of nude rats. In addition, the expression of major histocompatibility complex class II, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, CD44 and l-selectin was significantly down-regulated both on immature and mature B-lymphocyte subsets. After implantation of thymic tissue under the kidney capsule of nude rats the block in B-lymphocyte maturation was alleviated and the expression of surface molecules was normalized. Comparable effects were seen after the adoptive transfer of T lymphocytes. Thus, we show that in nude rats B cells do not mature properly because of the lack of T-cell help and that T lymphocytes are required for the peripheral phase of B-lymphocyte maturation, as well as for the appropriate expression of surface molecules. This should be considered when treating patients with T-cell deficiencies.

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