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Blood. 2012 Dec 13;120(25):5021-31. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-04-424648. Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Splenic proliferative lymphoid nodules distinct from germinal centers are sites of autoantigen stimulation in immune thrombocytopenia.

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CC12 Department of Medicine, Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Charite´–University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


To understand more specific abnormalities of humoral autoimmunity, we studied 31 spleens from immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) patients and 36 control spleens. Detailed analysis identified at least 2 different splenic structures accommodating proliferating B cells, classic germinal centers (GCs), and proliferative lymphoid nodules (PLNs). PLNs were characterized by proliferating Ki67(+) B cells close to follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) and lacked polarization into dark and light zones. As opposed to cells in GCs, proliferating B cells in PLN lacked expression of Bcl6. In both PLNs and GCs of ITP spleens, the density of T cells was significantly reduced. Both T follicular helper cells (T(FH)) and regulatory T cells were reduced within PLNs of ITP spleens suggesting a defect of tolerance related to a loss of T-cell control. Within PLNs of ITP, but not controls, abundant platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa autoantigens was found in IgM containing immune complexes tightly bound to FDCs and closely approximated to proliferating B cells. GPIV was found less often, but not in the same PLNs as GPIIb/IIIa. Autoantigens were not found in the GCs of ITP or controls indicating that PLNs are the sites of autoantigen stimulation in ITP potentially related to a lack of control by T cells and/or the present autoantigen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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