Cutting Edge: Identification of Marginal Reticular Cells as Phagocytes of Apoptotic B Cells in Germinal Centers

J Immunol. 2018 Jun 1;200(11):3691-3696. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701293. Epub 2018 Apr 23.


Germinal centers (GCs) in secondary lymphoid organs generate large numbers of apoptotic B cells that must be eliminated by phagocytes to prevent the development of autoimmune diseases. Although tingible body macrophages engulf apoptotic GC B cells, whether stromal cells are also involved in this process is unclear. In this study, we identified marginal reticular cells (MRCs) as novel nonprofessional phagocytes for the clearance of apoptotic GC B cells in the spleen. We used CD19eGFP (CD19creZ/EG) mice, which express enhanced GFP (eGFP) under the control of CD19cre expression, to track B cells in the GCs after immunization with NP-chicken γ globulin plus aluminum salt. We demonstrated that the MRC population, as determined by expression of podoplanin or Rankl, specifically showed an eGFP signal in the cytoplasm after immunization. These results suggest that MRCs contribute to the clearance of apoptotic B cells in GCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytoplasm / immunology
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phagocytes / immunology*
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Stromal Cells / immunology


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins