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Long-lived plasma cells are generated in mucosal immune responses and contribute to the bone marrow plasma cell pool in mice

Lemke, A;Kraft, M;Roth, K;Riedel, R;Lammerding, D;Hauser, AE;

During systemic immune responses, plasma blasts are generated in secondary lymphoid organs and migrate to the bone marrow, where they can become long-lived, being responsible for the maintenance of long-term antibody titers. Plasma blasts generated in mucosal immune responses of the small intestine home to the lamina propria (LP), producing mainly immunoglobulin A. The migration of these antibody-secreting cells is well characterized during acute immune responses. Less is known about their lifetime and contribution to the long-lived bone marrow compartment. Here we investigate the lifetime of plasma cells (PCs) and the relationship between the PC compartments of the gut and bone marrow after oral immunization. Our findings indicate that PCs in the LP can survive for extended time periods. PCs specific for orally administered antigens can be detected in the bone marrow for at least 9 months after immunization, indicating that the mucosal PC compartment can contribute to the long-lived PC pool in this organ, independent of the participation of splenic B cells. Our findings suggest that the compartmentalization between mucosal and systemic PC pools is less strict than previously thought. This may have implications for the development of vaccines as well as for autoantibody-mediated diseases.