Multiparameter flow cytometric analysis of human fetal bone marrow B cells

Tucker W LeBien, Bernhard Wörmann, Judith G. Villablanca, Che Leung Law, Lewis M. Steinberg, Virendra O. Shah, Michael R. Loken

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56 Scopus citations


Maturation of adult human bone marrow (BM) B cells is accompanied by the sequential acquisition and loss of characteristic cell surface antigens (Loken et al., Blood 70:1316). Little is known about these changes in fetal BM B cells. In order to compare fetal with adult B cell development, we performed three-color, flow cytometric analyses of cell surface antigens, as well as nuclear TdT staining, on lymphoid cells from fetal BM. Mononuclear cells isolated from fetal BM (18-22 weeks) were stained with combinations of antibodies against CD3, CD10, CD19, CD20, CD21, CD22, CD34, CD45, PCA-1, IgM, and HLA-DR. Analysis of six separate fetal BM specimens indicated that combinations of cell surface antigens were expressed on analogous populations in fetal and adult BM. Consistent with adult BM, >95% of TdT+ cells within the CD10+ population were CD34+, whereas <5% were CD34-. This CD10+/CD34+/TdT+ population constituted 30-40% of the total B cell compartment, compared with 10% in adults. Quantitative changes in CD45 expression on fetal BM B cells defined three clear populations, as has been observed in adults. In striking contrast to adult BM, >95% of CD19+ and >95% of surface IgM+ cells were CD10+, indicating that CD10 is a pan-B cell antigen in fetal BM. Virtually no mature B cells expressing CD21, CD22, or PCA-1 were detected in fetal BM. Our results indicate a preponderance of immature phenotypes exist in the fetal BM B cell compartment. These immature cells can be grouped into three distinct populations, and probably correspond to expanded populations found less frequently in adult BM. This striking increase in the earliest identifiable stages of B cell ontogeny is consistent with an active expansion of cells destined to constitute the humoral immune system during fetal development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-358
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1990

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