A new CD21low B cell population in the peripheral blood of patients with SLE

Clin Immunol. 2004 Nov;113(2):161-71. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2004.05.010.


A hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the production of autoantibodies. Recent reports suggest an abnormal peripheral blood B cell homeostasis in SLE patients without being conclusive. We analyzed by four color flow-cytometry peripheral blood B cell subpopulations of SLE patients, healthy donors, and patients with other systemic autoimmune diseases. IgM memory but not switched memory B cells of SLE patients were significantly decreased compared to healthy donors, whereas transitional B cells, characterized by CD19+IgMhiIgD+CD24hiCD38hi, were significantly expanded in SLE patients but also found in other autoimmune disorders. The population of plasmablasts (CD19loCD21loCD27++CD38++) was increased in active disease. Most interestingly, B cells in autoimmune disorders contain a so far uncharacterized subpopulation with an activated phenotype (CD19hiCD21loCD38loCD86int). None of the identified subpopulations was associated with current or previous therapy and therefore may represent different aspects of the disturbed B cell homeostasis in patients with SLE.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / blood
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Complement 3d / blood
  • Receptors, Complement 3d / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Receptors, Complement 3d