We demonstrate that, on average, greater than 90% of B lymphocytes in fetal spleen express CD5 at gestational ages of 17-23 weeks. Similarly, CD5+ B cells (B-1 cells) are the major B cell subset in umbilical cord blood. These findings depend on the optimization of fluorochrome conjugated anti-CD5 reagents for multiparameter fluorescent-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis. From infancy through childhood the percentage of B-1 cells gradually diminishes in both spleen and peripheral blood. Stable adult levels, 25-35% of the total B cell population, are reached in late adolescence. The decrease in the percentage of B-1 cells in spleen is accompanied by an increase in conventional (CD5-) B cells, keeping the percentage of total B cells per mononuclear cells relatively constant. In contrast, in peripheral blood, the concentration of both B-1 cells and total B cells decreases, while T cells increase. At the functional level, we show that polyreactive IgM autoantibodies are produced by FACS-sorted CD5high B cells, but not by CD5- B cells from adolescent spleen. In contrast, fetal splenic CD5high and CD5- B cells appear functionally uniform, both producing IgM autoantibodies that are typical of B-1 cells. The apparent level of CD5- B cells in fetal spleen, on average 10% of total B cells, may still result from limitations of our reagent. The prominence of B-1 cells in fetal spleen and cord blood, the gradual reduction of B-1 cells with increasing age, and its characteristic repertoire, all suggest a role for this cell type in immunologically immature hosts.
View details for Web of Science ID A1992HF01700016
View details for PubMedID 1377947