B Lymphocyte intestinal homing in inflammatory bowel disease

Caterina Defendenti, Piercarlo Sarzi-Puttini, Silvia Grosso, Annamaria Croce, Olivia Senesi, Simone Saibeni, Simona Bollani, Piero L. Almasio, Savino Bruno, Fabiola Atzeni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is thought to be due to an abnormal interaction between the host immune system and commensal microflora. Within the intestinal immune system, B cells produce physiologically natural antibodies but pathologically atypical anti-neutrophil antibodies (xANCAs) are frequently observed in patients with IBD. The objective is to investigate the localisation of immunoglobulin-producing cells (IPCs) in samples of inflamed intestinal tissue taken from patients with IBD, and their possible relationship with clinical features.Methods: The IPCs in small intestinal, colonic and rectal biopsy specimens of patients with IBD were analysed by means of immunofluorescence using polyclonal rabbit anti-human Ig and goat anti-human IgM. The B cell phenotype of the IPC-positive samples was assessed using monoclonal antibodies specific for CD79, CD20, CD23, CD21, CD5, λ and κ chains. Statistical correlations were sought between the histological findings and clinical expression.Results: The study involved 96 patients (64 with ulcerative colitis and 32 with Crohn's disease). Two different patterns of B lymphocyte infiltrates were found in the intestinal tissue: one was characterised by a strong to moderate stromal localisation of small IgM +/CD79 +/CD20 -/CD21 -/CD23 -/CD5 ± IPCs (42.7% of cases); in the other (57.3%) no such small IPCs were detected in stromal or epithelial tissues. IPCs were significantly less frequent in the patients with Crohn's disease than in those with ulcerative colitis (p = 0.004).Conclusion: Our findings suggest that different immunopathogenetic pathways underlie chronic intestinal inflammation with different clinical expressions. The presence of small B lymphocytes resembling B-1 cells also seemed to be negatively associated with Crohn's disease. It can therefore be inferred that the gut contains an alternative population of B cells that have a regulatory function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalBMC Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 30 2011


  • B1 cells
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lymphocyte homing
  • Lymphocytes
  • Mucosal immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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