BAFF-R, the major B cell-activating factor receptor, is expressed on most mature B cells and B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders

Hum Pathol. 2005 Oct;36(10):1113-9. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2005.08.005.


B cell-activating factor receptor (BAFF-R) is one of three known receptors for BAFF, a critical regulator of B- and T-cell function. In mice, BAFF-R is required for B-cell maturation and survival, and in mice and humans, the overproduction of BAFF is associated with autoimmune disease. We sought to determine the normal pattern of BAFF-R expression at specific stages of B- and T-cell development and whether this pattern of expression corresponds with related B- and T-cell neoplasms. Most circulating human B cells and a small subset of T cells are BAFF-R-positive. In reactive lymphoid tissues, BAFF-R is expressed by B cells colonizing the mantle zones, by a subset of cells within germinal centers, and rare cells in the interfollicular T-cell zone. BAFF-R is also expressed by B cells colonizing the splenic marginal zone. Seventy-seven (78%) of 116 cases of B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders were BAFF-R-positive by immunohistochemical and/or flow cytometric immunophenotypic analysis, including most cases of mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. In contrast, cases of precursor B lymphoblastic lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma exhibit weak to negative staining for BAFF-R. All cases of classical Hodgkin lymphoma and T-cell lymphomas were BAFF-R-negative, including all cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, and peripheral T-cell lymphoma, unspecified. These findings highlight BAFF-R as a marker of both normal and neoplastic B cells and raise the possibility that BAFF-R expression is necessary for the survival of a subset of neoplastic B lymphocytes analogous to its known role in promoting normal B-cell maturation and survival.

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / classification
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4