Monoclonal antibodies reactive with B cell-specific differentiation and other antigens were used to investigate stages of B cell maturation in human lymphoid tissue, using an immunoperoxidase technique on frozen tissue sections. Lymphoid follicles, which represent the major anatomic compartment of B cells, demonstrated cellular antigenic expressions that appear to reflect differentiation of B cells. The majority of cells in the primary follicles and the mantle zones of secondary follicles expressed surface antigens similar to those of circulating B cells, namely IgM, IgD, Ia, B1, and B2. In contrast, the germinal center cells of secondary follicles stained for IgM, IgG, B1, B2, and Ia antigens, but not for IgD, and furthermore, acquired the T10 antigen. The germinal centers stained much more intensely than mantle zones with anti-B2, whereas no such striking difference in the staining intensity was observed with anti B1. Plasma cells, which represent the end stage of B cell differentiation, showed intense cytoplasmic staining with the anti-T10 antibody. The results indicate that the generation of germinal center cells in primary lymphoid follicles involves phenotype changes that correspond largely to those previously observed after both antigenic and mitogenic activation of B lymphocytes.

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