Homing and adhesion patterns determine the cellular composition of the bone marrow plasma cell niche

J Immunol. 2012 Feb 1;188(3):1283-91. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1103169.


According to commonly held concepts, plasma cell (PC) longevity in bone marrow (BM) depends upon their access to survival niches. These are thought to exist in nursery cell types, which support PCs by secreting PC survival factors. To better define PC survival niches and their functioning, we adoptively transferred traceable Blimp-1-(GFP) PCs into recipient mice lacking a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL), IL-6, or macrophage migration inhibitory factor. Transferred BMPCs were preferentially associated with Ly-6C(high) monocytes (normalized colocalization index: 9.84), eosinophils (4.29), and megakaryocytes (2.12). Although APRIL was essential for BMPC survival, PC recruitment into the proximity of nursery cells was unimpaired in APRIL-deficient mice, questioning the concept that the same factors account for attraction/retention of PCs as for their local survival. Rather, the order of colocalization with BMPCs (monocytes > eosinophils > megakaryocytes) reflected these cells' relative expression of CXCR4, VLA-4, and LFA-1, the homing and adhesion molecules that direct/retain PCs in the BM. This suggests a scenario wherein the cellular composition of the BMPC niche is defined by a common pattern of attraction/retention on CXCL12-abundant reticular docking cells. Thereby, PCs are directed to associate in a functional BM niche with hematopoietic CXCR4(+)VLA-4(+)LFA-1(+) nursery cells, which provide PC survival factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells*
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Survival
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Integrin alpha4beta1
  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1
  • Mice
  • Plasma Cells / cytology*
  • Plasma Cells / transplantation
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Stem Cell Niche


  • Integrin alpha4beta1
  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1
  • Receptors, CXCR4