Human B-1 cells take the stage

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013 May:1285:97-114. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12137.


B-1 cells play critical roles in defending against microbial invasion and in housekeeping removal of cellular debris. B-1 cells secrete natural antibody and manifest functions that influence T cell expansion and differentiation and in these and other ways differ from conventional B-2 cells. B-1 cells were originally studied in mice where they are easily distinguished from B-2 cells, but their identity in the human system remained poorly defined for many years. Recently, functional criteria for human B-1 cells were established on the basis of murine findings, and reverse engineering resulted in identification of the phenotypic profile, CD20(+)CD27(+)CD43(+)CD70(-), for B-1 cells found in both umbilical cord blood and adult peripheral blood. Human B-1 cells may contribute to multiple disease states through production of autoantibody and stimulation/modulation of T cell activity. Human B-1 cells could be a rich source of antibodies useful in treating diseases present in elderly populations where natural antibody protection may have eroded. Manipulation of human B-1 cell numbers and/or activity may be a new avenue for altering T cell function and treating immune dyscrasias.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Cooperation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Phenotype


  • Antigens, CD
  • Immunoglobulin M