Distinct short-lived and long-lived antibody-producing cell populations

Eur J Immunol. 1986 Oct;16(10):1297-301. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830161018.


This report analyzes the life span of Ig-containing cells (IgCC) in different sites of antibody production. The experimental approach was based upon the observations that most IgCC are derived from proliferating precursors while IgCC themselves are mainly nondividing end cells. Rats were given a continuous infusion of [3H] thymidine via an osmotic pump inserted in the peritoneal cavity. At intervals of 1, 3, 5 or 10 days after starting infusions, tissues were taken and analyzed by a combination of immunohistology and autoradiography to identify the proportions of IgCC which had gone through S phase of the cell cycle during the period of infusion. After 3 days infusion the median and (range) percent-labeled IgCC in the medullary cords of mesenteric and cervical lymph nodes and the red pulp of the spleen were, respectively, 88 (81-90), 75 (66-77) and 88 (82-93). Conversely that for IgCC in bone marrow was only 13 (11-17) and that in the lamina propria of the jejunum 47 (33-68). The rate of increase in labeling of bone marrow IgCC with length of infusion was approximately linear. Extrapolation of this slope suggests that bone marrow IgCC have a life span in excess of 3 weeks. The slopes of increase in IgCC labeled with time for lymph nodes and spleen were clearly biphasic suggesting that while most IgCC in these tissues have a life span of less than 3 days, there is also a minor population of long-lived IgCC. The lamina propria appears to have approximately equal proportions of long and short-lived IgCC. The life span of IgCC, with the exception of IgMCC, appears to be a feature of the site of antibody production rather than the Ig class produced. Almost all IgM-containing cells were found to be short lived.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / physiology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Division
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Rats


  • Immunoglobulins