Immaturity of the human splenic marginal zone in infancy: Possible contribution to the deficient infant immune response

W Timens*, A Boes, T Rozeboom-Uiterwijk, S Poppema

*Corresponding author for this work

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    The immune response to polysaccharide Ag as present in the capsule of certain virulent bacteria has been demonstrated to be related to a functionally intact spleen. This immune response is almost completely defective in infancy. Because of this the development of cellular compartments in the human spleen was studied immunohistologically in frozen and paraffin tissue sections of 32 infant spleens (less than 2 y of age) and 6 spleens from children. Six cases of sudden infant death syndrome and 7 cases of infection or sepsis which were included showed no significant differences compared to the other cases. Whereas all other cellular compartments have completed their maturation to an adult-type immunophenotype and morphology within the first 5 mo, the infant marginal zone B cells show essentially different features compared to the adult situation. The main characteristics of the infant marginal zone B cells are the absence of CD21-(C3d/EBV-R) expression and the high percentage of cells strongly coexpressing IgM and IgD. As the marginal zone is supposed to be the site of the initiation of the immune response to polysaccharide Ag, there is a remarkable coincidence between the first appearance of MZ B cells with adult features, and the time of acquisition of the ability to mount an immune response to polysaccharides, including encapsulated bacteri
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3200-3206
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Immunology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 15-Nov-1989

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