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J Immunol. 2010 Dec 15;185(12):7180-5. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002319. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Basophils support the survival of plasma cells in mice.

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Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


We have previously shown that basophils support humoral memory immune responses by increasing B cell proliferation and Ig production as well as inducing a Th2 and B helper phenotype in T cells. Based on the high frequency of basophils in spleen and bone marrow, in this study we investigated whether basophils also support plasma cell survival and Ig production. In the absence of basophils, plasma cells of naive or immunized mice rapidly undergo apoptosis in vitro and produce only low amounts of Igs. In contrast, in the presence of basophils and even more in the presence of activated basophils, the survival of plasma cells is markedly increased and continuous production of Igs enabled. This effect is partially dependent on IL-4 and IL-6 released from basophils. Similar results were obtained when total bone marrow cells or bone marrow cells depleted of basophils were cultured in the presence or absence of substances activating basophils. When basophils were depleted in vivo 6 mo after immunization with an Ag, specific Ig production in subsequent bone marrow cultures was significantly reduced. In addition, depletion of basophils for 18 d in naive mice significantly reduced the number of plasma cells in the spleen. These data indicate that basophils are important for survival of plasma cells in vitro and in vivo.

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