Phenotype and function of human B cells expressing CD70 (CD27 ligand)

Eur J Immunol. 1996 Dec;26(12):2964-71. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830261223.


CD70, the cellular ligand of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family member CD27, can be found on a limited number of germinal center (GC) B cells in some tonsils, on scattered lymphocytes residing in secondary lymphoid organs, and on a fraction of the circulating B cell population. Due to the restricted expression of CD70 in vivo, we analyzed signals that determine CD70 expression levels and characterized the phenotype and function of CD70+ B cells. Expression of CD70 on B cells activated in vitro was found to be dependent on the continuous presence of a B cell antigen receptor cross-linking agent, and induced or potentiated by CD40 ligation but was down-modulated by the Th2 cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13. Both in peripheral blood and tonsil cell suspensions, CD70+ B cell subpopulations were found to be enriched for CD27- and IgG-expressing cells, but contained less IgD+ B cells. Additional analysis of markers which define specific differentiation stages (Bm1-5) of mature B cells within human tonsils did not place CD70-expressing B cells in one of these subsets. Functional experiments revealed that whereas both CD70- and CD70+ B cells can secrete immunoglobulin after activation with a combination of Staphylococcus aureus Cowan strain I and IL-2, only CD70+ B cells can produce large quantities of antibodies when stimulated in a T cell-dependent fashion. Our combined data imply that CD70 is a marker for mature B cells which have recently been primed by antigen in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Formation
  • Antigens, CD*
  • B-Lymphocytes / classification*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD27 Ligand
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Ligands
  • Lymphocyte Cooperation
  • Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Palatine Tonsil / immunology
  • Palatine Tonsil / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD27 Ligand
  • CD70 protein, human
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins