The bone marrow: the major source of serum immunoglobulins, but still a neglected site of antibody formation

Clin Exp Immunol. 1981 Oct;46(1):1-8.


Immunoglobulin (Ig) secreting cells occur in all lymphoid tissues, including the bone marrow (BM). There are important differences between the various organs with respect to their number of Ig-secreting cells and the heavy chain isotype distribution of the secreted Igs. Furthermore, both distribution patterns depend on age. Early in life most Ig-secreting cells are localized in spleen and lymph nodes. In adults, however, the majority of all Ig-secreting cells of the individual are localized in the BM. Immunization can lead to the appearance of substantial numbers of antibody-forming cells in BM. The kinetics of the BM response are different from the response in the peripheral lymphoid tissues. Shortly after immunization most antibody-forming cells occur in the peripheral lymphoid tissues, but later on, especially during secondary type responses, most antibody-forming cells are localized in the BM. Apparently, antibody formation is regulated in such a way that peripheral lymphoid tissues respond rapidly, but only for a short period, whereas the BM response starts slowly, but takes care of a long-lasting massive production of antibodies to antigens which repeatedly challenge the organism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / immunology*
  • Hemolytic Plaque Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Immunoglobulins / biosynthesis*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Rabbits
  • Time Factors


  • Immunoglobulins