CD5-positive B cells in healthy elderly humans are a polyclonal B cell population

Eur J Immunol. 2000 Oct;30(10):2918-23. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200010)30:10<2918::AID-IMMU2918>3.0.CO;2-C.


B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) is a disease of the elderly and is characterized by a malignant clone of CD5+ B cells. In old mice, clonal expansions of CD5+ B cells are a common feature, and these animals frequently develop B-CLL. To investigate whether clonal expansion of CD5+ B cells also occurs in elderly humans, predisposing for the development of B-CLL, we analyzed VH gene rearrangements of CD5+ B cells from blood samples of four healthy, 65-82-years-old volunteers as markers of clonality. CD5+ and CD5-B cells were obtained by cell sorting, CDRIII of rearranged VH genes were amplified by polymerase chain reaction, and fragment length analysis was performed. All samples demonstrated a polyclonal pattern of VH gene length distribution. In addition, VH gene rearrangements were amplified and sequenced from sorted single cells of two of the donors. No clonally related CD5+ or CD5- B cells were observed. Thus, development of dominant clones of CD5+ peripheral blood B cells is unlikely to be a common trait of elderly individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / chemistry
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • CD5 Antigens / analysis*
  • Clone Cells
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / etiology
  • Mice
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Species Specificity


  • CD5 Antigens