Over 80% of the body's activated B cells are located in mucosal sites, including the intestine. The intestine contains IgM+ B cells, but these cells have not been characterized phenotypically or in terms of their developmental origins. We describe a previously unidentified and unique subset of immunoglobulin M+ B cells that present with an AA4.1 -CD21-CD23- major histocompatibility complex class IIbright surface phenotype and are characterized by a low frequency of somatic hypermutation and the potential ability to produce interleukin-12p70. This B cell subset resides within the normal mucosa of the large intestine and expands in response to inflammation. Some of these intestinal B cells originate from the AA4.1+ immature B2 cell pool in the steady state and are also recruited from the recirculating naive B cell pool in the context of intestinal inflammation. They develop in an antigen-independent and BAFF-dependent manner in the absence of T cell help. Expansion of these cells can be induced in the absence of the spleen and gut-associated lymphoid tissues. These results describe the existence of an alternative pathway of B cell maturation in the periphery that gives rise to a tissue-specific B cell subset.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy