IL-6 supports the generation of human long-lived plasma cells in combination with either APRIL or stromal cell-soluble factors

Leukemia. 2014 Aug;28(8):1647-56. doi: 10.1038/leu.2014.61. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


The recent understanding of plasma cell (PC) biology has been obtained mainly from murine models. The current concept is that plasmablasts home to the BM and further differentiate into long-lived PCs (LLPCs). These LLPCs survive for months in contact with a complex niche comprising stromal cells (SCs) and hematopoietic cells, both producing recruitment and survival factors. Using a multi-step culture system, we show here the possibility to differentiate human memory B cells into LLPCs surviving for at least 4 months in vitro and producing immunoglobulins continuously. A remarkable feature is that IL-6 is mandatory to generate LLPCs in vitro together with either APRIL or soluble factors produced by SCs, unrelated to APRIL/BAFF, SDF-1, or IGF-1. These LLPCs are out of the cell cycle, express highly PC transcription factors and surface markers. This model shows a remarkable robustness of human LLPCs, which can survive and produce highly immunoglobulins for months in vitro without the contact with niche cells, providing the presence of a minimal cocktail of growth factors and nutrients. This model should be useful to understand further normal PC biology and its deregulation in premalignant or malignant PC disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor / pharmacology
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology*
  • NF-kappa B / physiology
  • Plasma Cells / drug effects*
  • Plasma Cells / physiology
  • Transcriptome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Ligand Superfamily Member 13 / pharmacology*


  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Ligand Superfamily Member 13