Identification of two distinct CD5- B cell subsets from human tonsils with different responses to CD40 monoclonal antibody

Mariella Dono, Siniona Zupo, Raffaella Masante, Giuseppe Taborelli, Nicholas Chiorazzi, Manlio Ferrarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the response of different CD5- B cell subsets to CD40 monoclonal antibody (mAb) in various combinations with interleukin (IL)-4 or rabbit anti-human μ chain antibody (a-μ-Ab).The different CD5- B cell subsets were isolated from tonsillar B cell suspensions depleted of CD5+ B cells and subsequently fractionated on Percoll density gradients. While resting CD5+ B cells proliferated and produced IgM molecules in response to a-μ-Ab, IL-4 and CD40 mAb as well as to Staphylococcus aureus Cowan strain I (SAC) and IL-2, resting CD5- B cells, which were co-purified in the same 60% Percoll fractions, consistently failed to respond. These cells were, however, activated by the stimuli employed, as demonstrated by their capacity to express the surface activation markers CD69, CD25 and CD71. Resting CD5+ B cells had the typical phenotype of mantle zone B cells (IgM+ IgD+ CD39+ CD38- CD10- CDw75dim), whereas resting CD5- B cells were CD38- CD39- CD10- CDw75 intermediate and expressed surface IgM but relatively little surface IgD and could not be classified as mantle zone or germinal center cells.The finding that purified germinal center cells (CD38+ CD10+ CD39 CDw75bright, IgG+) responded to CD40 mAb and IL-4 and also to SAC plus IL-2 further underlined the differences to resting CD5- B cells. However, some of the data collected suggest possible relationships between CD5- B cells and germinal center cells. The CD5- B cells isolated from the 50% Percoll fraction proliferated in response to a-μ-Ab CD40 mAb and IL-4 as well as to SAC and IL-2. These cells had the same mantle zone B cell phenotype as the CD5+ B cells, but their capacity to respond to the stimuli in vitro was unrelated to a possible contamination with CD5+ B cells, as documented by the appropriate controls. Furthermore, upon exposure to SAC or phorbol esters, the large majority of CD5- B cells from the 50% Percoll fraction did not express surface CDS and there was very little if any accumulation of CDS mRNA. Finally, most of the cycling cells in the stimulated CDS B cells did not express CD5. The CD5- B cells from the 50% Percoll fraction were comprised of a consistent proportion of cells that expressed surface activation markers. The removal of these cells abrogated the capacity of the suspensions to respond to the stimuli in vitro, possibly suggesting that these cells received additional activation signals in vivo which were essential to acquire the capacity to respond and that could not be reproduced in vitro. The present study underlines the phenotypic and functional heterogeneity of CD5- B cells and contributes to the identification of two subsets of these cells which differ in phenotype, tissue distribution and in vitro responses to different stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-881
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1993


  • B cell activation
  • CD40 monoclonal antibodies
  • CD5 B cells
  • CD5 B cells
  • Proliferative response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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