Low number of memory B cells in the salivary glands of patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome

Autoimmunity. 2012 Nov;45(7):547-55. doi: 10.3109/08916934.2012.712170. Epub 2012 Sep 5.


We have previously shown that patients with primary Sjögren's Syndrome (pSS) show a significant reduction of autoantigen specific CD27(+) memory B cells and an abnormally elevated level of autoantibody producing plasma cells in peripheral blood (PB) compared to controls. Because both memory B cells and plasma cells have been detected in salivary glands (SG) of pSS patients, we aimed to study the B cell pattern in SG biopsies. Double immunohistochemical staining of CD20 and CD27 was carried out on paraffin-embedded SG tissue from 10 pSS patients to distinguish CD20(+)/CD27(+) memory B cells, and identify the CD20(+) glandular B cell zones (BCZ). Given that plasma blasts and plasma cells are CD27(++) and CD20(- ), additional CD138 single staining of serial sections allowed the distinction of CD27(++)/CD138(- ) plasma blasts located within the BCZ from CD27(++)/CD138(+) plasma cells that were found mostly on the periphery of the BCZ and also observed interstitially. Both BCZ and the memory B cell populations were then quantified. Contrary to what has been reported earlier through immunoflourescent staining of memory B cells in SG tissue, we have shown that there is a low number of memory B cells located within the glandular BCZ. Plasma blasts and plasma cells, however, were more abundant in the SG. Together our findings suggest that these low numbers of memory B cells in both PB and SG of pSS patients may be the result of activation of these cells into plasma cells at the site of inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD20 / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Plasma Cells / immunology
  • Plasma Cells / metabolism
  • Salivary Glands / immunology*
  • Salivary Glands / pathology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / immunology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology*
  • Syndecan-1 / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / immunology


  • Antigens, CD20
  • Syndecan-1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7