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Characteristics of natural antibody–secreting cells


Natural IgM plays a critical role in protection from pathogens and the prevention of autoimmunity. While its importance has been shown in many different settings, its origins are incompletely understood. This review focuses on the properties of the natural IgM antibody-secreting cells (ASCs), which arise mainly from the B-1 cell lineage. B-1 cells are generated in multiple waves during development, mostly in the fetal and early postfetal periods. The developmental time points can affect their repertoire: prenatal B-1 cells express a mainly germ line-encoded repertoire, while postnatally developing B-1 cells can express Ig with a greater degree of variation. Spleen and bone marrow, but not the body cavities, are primary sites of natural IgM secretion. Within these tissues heterogeneous populations of IgM ASCs can be found. While some ASCs express classical markers of B-1 lymphocytes, others express those of terminally differentiated plasma cells. A better understanding of the properties of these different natural IgM ASCs could aid their future therapeutic exploitation.

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