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Eur J Immunol. 1996 Jan;26(1):17-27.

In vitro cultured stromal cells from human tonsils display a distinct phenotype and induce B cell adhesion and proliferation.

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Laboratorio di Immunologia e Genetica, Istituto di Ricerca Codivilla Putti I.O.R., Bologna, Italy.


Peripheral lymphoid tissues contain a fibroblastic cell type referred to as stromal cells or reticulum cells which interact with lymphocytes as part of the lymphoid microenvironment. After isolation from human tonsils and expansion in vitro we analyzed the surface phenotype, extracellular matrix components, cytoskeletal products, cytokine production, binding and functional interaction with B lymphocytes of in vitro cultured stromal cells (HTSC) both in resting condition and after activation with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interferon (IFN)-gamma. Our results show that HTSC do not express specific myeloid, lymphoid, endothelial or epithelial markers. HTSC express CD54 (ICAM-1), CD49a (VLA-1), CD49b (VLA-2), CD49c (VLA-3), CD49e (VLA-5), CD49f (VLA-6), CD29, CD51, CD44 and produce vinculin, beta-tubulin, alpha-actin, vimentin, fibronectin, laminin and collagen types I, III and IV. Activation of HTSC up-regulated CD54 (ICAM-1) and induced HLA-DR and CD106 (VCAM-1). HTSC constitutively produce interleukin (IL)-6 which is enhanced upon activation with TNF-alpha. IL-8 and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor are detected only in the supernatants of activated HTSC. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that HTSC display mRNA for IL-1 alpha, leukemia inhibitory factor and IL-7. The adhesion of tonsillar B lymphocytes to activated HTSC is mediated by CD11a/CD18 and CD54. Furthermore, HTSC can induce maximal proliferation of IL-2-activated B lymphocytes cocultured in direct cell-cell contact with HTSC. These results clearly distinguish in vitro cultured HTSC from common fibroblasts and other non-lymphoid elements present in the lymphoid parenchyma, such as follicular dendritic cells, and show that HTSC actively participate in the lymphoid microenvironment. In vitro cultures of HTSC could therefore be a useful model system for detailed analysis of the interactions between stromal cells and lymphocytes under physiological and pathological conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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