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.
Copyright © 2018 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.