Identification of transitional type II B cells in the salivary glands of patients with Sjögren's syndrome

Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Jul;54(7):2280-8. doi: 10.1002/art.21936.


Objective: To identify B cell subpopulations participating in the lymphocyte infiltrate of salivary glands from patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome. A special emphasis was placed on those B lymphocytes included in the ectopic germinal centers (GCs).

Methods: The presence of B cells in salivary glands and their polyclonality were ascertained by phenotyping and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in salivary gland samples from 18 patients. Their phenotype was thoroughly analyzed using a number of double-staining combinations. The results obtained in tissue sections were confirmed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis of B cells eluted from salivary glands, and these findings were compared with those in tonsils.

Results: Memory-type B cells were defined as CD20+, CD27+ and were seen in all specimens, whereas GCs were found in only 7 specimens. Furthermore, B cells found in these GCs lacked certain characteristics of centroblasts and centrocytes. Instead, they fulfilled the criteria for transitional type II (TII) B cells and resembled marginal-zone B cells. BAFF (the assistance of which is required for proper transformation of transitional TI B cells into transitional TII B cells) accumulated adjacent to transitional and marginal-zone-like B lymphocytes. Further evidence for the involvement of BAFF came from the expression of its receptors on infiltrating B cells.

Conclusion: These transitional TII and marginal-zone-like B cells are probably instrumental in the local production of autoantibodies and possibly influential in the ensuing destruction of epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology
  • Autoantibodies
  • B-Cell Activating Factor
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Female
  • Germinal Center / immunology
  • Germinal Center / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism
  • Salivary Glands / immunology
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism
  • Salivary Glands / pathology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / immunology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / metabolism
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD20
  • Autoantibodies
  • B-Cell Activating Factor
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNFRSF13C protein, human
  • TNFSF13B protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha