Evidence for differential responsiveness of human CD5+ and CD5- B cell subsets to T cell-independent mitogens

Simona Zupo, Mariella Dono, Livio Azzoni, Nicholas Chiorazzi, Manlio Ferrarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tonsillar resting B cells were separated into CD5+ and CD5- cell subsets and stimulated with the thymus-independent mitogens, Staphylococcus aureus Cowan strain I (SAC) or insolubilized anti-μ monoclonal antibodies (aμAb). CD5+ cells incorporated [3H]thymidine more efficiently than unfractionated cells when stimulated with SAC and their response was augmented by the addition of interleukin (IL) 2 to the cultures. CD5+ cells also proliferated in response to aμAb provided that IL 2 was present. SAC-, but not aμAb-stimulated CD5+ cells produced IgM and IgG molecules when IL 2 was added to the cultures and also secreted autoantibodies with rheumatoid factor activity and sometimes also with anti-single-stranded, but not double-stranded, DNA activity. The efficient response of CD5+ cells was not explained by the fact that they contained cells already activated in vivo. Thus, they did not express the CD23, CD69, CD71 and CD39 activation markers, failed to incorporated [3H]thymidine and to secrete Ig spontaneously or in response to IL 2 and were found to be in a quiescent state by cell cycle flow cytometric analysis. In contrast to CD5+ cells, CD5- cells displayed very little or no [3H]thymidine incorporation in response to SAC or to aμAb and their poor responsiveness was not altered by changing either the doses of the stimulants, the timing of the cultures, by co-culturing the cells together with CD5+ cells, or by adding IL 2 or IL 4. Immunofluorescence studies showed that freshly prepared CD5- cells did not have surface activation markers but that they expressed them following SAC stimulation.Thus, unlike that observed for CD5+ cells, SAC seems to be capable of activating CD5- cells but does not appear to be a sufficient stimulus for driving the cells into the subsequent phases of the cell cycle. The above findings, that demonstrate marked differences in the response to CD5+ and CD5- cells to thymus-independent stimuli, may bear relevance for the understanding of the normal clonal expansion of CD5+ cells as well as for the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-359
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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