Marginal zone B cells exhibit unique activation, proliferative and immunoglobulin secretory responses

Alyce M. Oliver, Flavius Martin, G. Larry Gartland, Robert H. Carter, John F. Kearney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

361 Scopus citations


Mouse splenic B cells can be separated based on their distinctive expression of cell surface antigens. Marginal zone (MZ) B cells are CD38(high) CD21(high) CD23(low/-), while follicular (FO) B cells are CD21(int) CD23(int) and newly formed (NF) B cells are CD21(dim/-) CD23-. Exploiting these phenotypic distinctions, we isolated the three B cell subsets and assessed their other phenotypic differences and functional capabilities in vitro. FO B cells proliferate more than the other B cell subsets in response to either IgM or CD38 cross-linking. MZ B cells proliferate better than FO B cells when stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), sub-optimal levels of LPS and CD38 cross-linking or CD40 ligation. When NF, FO and MZ B cells were stimulated with either LPS or LPS and interleukin-4, MZ B cells secreted more IgM and IgG3 than the other two subsets. Similarly, calcium fluxes measured within MZ B cells are larger in amplitude and more sustained after B cell receptor cross-linking than those found in the other two subsets. Collectively, these results indicate that CD38(high) CD21(high) CD23(low/-) MZ B cells are specially suited to play a unique role in response to antigens delivered to the MZ area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2366-2374
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • B cell
  • CD21
  • CD38
  • Marginal zone
  • Mature B cell subsets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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