Antibody-secreting plasma cells persist for decades in human intestine

J Exp Med. 2017 Feb;214(2):309-317. doi: 10.1084/jem.20161590. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Plasma cells (PCs) produce antibodies that mediate immunity after infection or vaccination. In contrast to PCs in the bone marrow, PCs in the gut have been considered short lived. In this study, we studied PC dynamics in the human small intestine by cell-turnover analysis in organ transplants and by retrospective cell birth dating measuring carbon-14 in genomic DNA. We identified three distinct PC subsets: a CD19+ PC subset was dynamically exchanged, whereas of two CD19- PC subsets, CD45+ PCs exhibited little and CD45- PCs no replacement and had a median age of 11 and 22 yr, respectively. Accumulation of CD45- PCs during ageing and the presence of rotavirus-specific clones entirely within the CD19- PC subsets support selection and maintenance of protective PCs for life in human intestine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / immunology
  • Antigens, CD19 / analysis
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasma Cells / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD19
  • CD19 molecule, human
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens
  • PTPRC protein, human