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J Immunol. 2006 Apr 1;176(7):4042-50.

Immunization-induced perturbation of human blood plasma cell pool: progressive maturation, IL-6 responsiveness, and high PRDI-BF1/BLIMP1 expression are critical distinctions between antigen-specific and nonspecific plasma cells.

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Servicio de Inmunología and Unidad de Investigación, Hospital Universitario Puerta del Mar, Cádiz, Spain.


The present study shows that reimmunization with tetanus toxoid (tet) caused a transient increase of the human blood plasma cell (PC) pool, detectable from 6th to 15th day postboost, as well as the temporal alteration of several PC features. Labeling of specific PC with FITC-tet C fragment (tetC) allowed kinetics analysis of the tetC(+) and tetC(-) PC, and revealed remarkable differences between them: 1) the kinetics of tetC(+) PC occurrence was exponential, and most of them appeared in a narrow time frame (5th to 8th day postboost), whereas the tetC(-) PC increase was lower (three to five times) and more prolonged (4th to 15th day postboost). 2) The tetC(+) PC subset contained a fraction of cycling cells, expressed high levels of DR, CD138, and CD126, and responded to IL-6 by improving their survival and Ig secretion; in contrast, the tetC(-) PC showed higher CXCR4 and lower DR and CD138, did not respond to IL-6, and contained a fraction of apoptotic cells. 3) Sequential phenotypic analysis revealed maturational changes within the tetC(+), but not tetC(-), PC subset; sequencing of tetC(+) PC IgVH genes showed clear features of Ag selection. 4) The tetC(+) PC expressed several times more positive regulatory domain I- binding factor 1/B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein 1 transcription factor than the tetC(-) PC. 5) The tetC(-) PC and bone marrow resident PC similarly expressed low DR and high CXCR4, but differed in that the latter exhibited higher levels of CD31, CD138, and positive regulatory domain I- binding factor 1/B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein 1. These findings support the view that tetC(+) PC contain bone marrow PC precursors, and tetC(-) PC probably belong to a removable compartment of aged PC.

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