Reaction of germinal centers in the T-cell-independent response to the bacterial polysaccharide α(1→6)dextran

Denong Wang, Sandra M. Wells, Alan M. Stall, Elvin A. Kabat

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Primary immunization of BALB/c mice with α(1→6)dextran (DEX), a native bacterial polysaccharide, induces an unexpected pattern of splenic B-cell responses. After a peak of antibody-secreting B-cell response at day 4, deposition of dextran-anti-dextran immune complexes, as revealed by staining with both dextran and antibodies to dextran, occurs and persists in splenic follicles until at least the fourth week after immunization. Antigen-specific B cells appear and proliferate in such follicles, leading by day 11 to development of DEX-specific germinal centers as characterized by the presence of distinct regions of DEX+ peanut agglutinin-positive (PNA+) cells. At this time, fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis also reveals the appearance of a distinct population of DEX+ PNA+ splenic B cells. In contrast, DEX+ PNA- cells, characterized by intense cytoplasmic staining, are present outside of splenic follicles, peak at day 4 to day 5, and persist until at least day 28. The frequency of these cells correlates with DEX- specific antibody-secreting cells, as detected by the ELISA-spot assay. Thus, in addition to the expected plasma cellular response, the typical T-cell- independent type II antigen, DEX, surprisingly also elicits the formation of antigen-specific germinal centers. These observations raise fundamental questions about the roles of germinal centers in T-cell-independent immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2502-2506
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 29 1994
Externally publishedYes


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