Lymph nodes & spleen, nonlymphoid
Lymph nodes-general
B cells

Topic Completed: 1 January 2011

Minor changes: 4 August 2020

Revised: 1 February 2019, last major update January 2011

Copyright: 2001-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: b cells lymphocyte development lymphoma

Nikhil Sangle, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 1,331
Page views in 2020 to date: 813
Cite this page: Sangle N. B cells. website. Accessed August 12th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Progressive maturation of hematopoietic stem cells through several stages to ultimately give rise to mature B cell pool that has been selected for reactivity against non-self antigens (Expert Rev Clin Immunol 2010;6:765)
  • Develop from stem cells of yolk sac, fetal liver, spleen and bone marrow
  • B cells complete most of their development within the bone marrow, in contrast to T cells that mature within the thymus
  • In intersinusoidal bone marrow, hematopoietic stem cells mature to early lymphoid progenitors, the pro B, pre B stages
  • Developmental stages are in close contact with slender CD10+ stromal cells or their extensions, which allows tightly regulated signaling (J Pathol 2005;205:311)
  • Earliest stem cells are in subendosteum, adjacent to inner bone surface; with maturation, B lineage cells move towards central axis of marrow; final stages of development of immature B cells occur in peripheral lymphoid organs (spleen, lymph nodes)
  • B cells express surface immunoglobulin (Ig), composed of 2 heavy (H) and 2 light (L) chains (either kappa or lambda)
  • B cell antigen receptor loci may have 4 types of modification: (a) recombination of variable, diversity and joining regions (VDJ); (b) somatic hypermutation of V segments; (c) immunoglobulin heavy chain gene class switching; and (d) receptor editing
  • Early B cell precursor is TdT+, CD34+, HLA-DR+, then undergoes heavy (H) chain rearrangement and adds CD19, then adds CD10, then adds IgM heavy chain; then adds light (L) chain rearrangement and adds cytoplasmic IgM with heavy and light chains, then B cells express IgM and IgD with the same binding site, then adds CD20 (now called pre B cell); then adds surface Ig, then adds CD21 and CD22 and drops TdT (now called B cell)
  • If B cell encounters an antigen that interacts with its variable region, it becomes a plasma cell
  • Precursor B cells contain immunoglobulin related components but not immunoglobulin; express CD179a and CD179b (precursor to light chains) as part of their pre B cell receptor, which disappears when replaced with conventional light chains
  • B cells express surface immunoglobulin, consisting of 2 heavy chains and 2 light chains (kappa or lambda); immunoglobulin is associated with CD79a / CD79b complex to form a B cell antigen receptor complex
  • IgH gene (heavy chain of immunoglobulin) is at 14q32; variable portion is coded by VDJ regions
  • IgL gene (light chain of immunoglobulin): kappa is at 2p11, lambda is at 22q11; no diversity region is present
  • Heavy chain isotype switch: determines if immunoglobulin is IgM, IgD, IgG1-4, IgA1-2 or IgE (9 constant regions); mediated by switch genes
Diagrams / tables

AFIP images

B cell biomarker expression during development

Images hosted on other servers:

B cell development

B cell response to antigen

B cell biomarker expression during development

niches in the bone
marrow required for
B cell development
Clinical features
  • B cell lymphomas: a clonal light chain rearrangement is usually specific for the presence of a B cell neoplasm
  • X linked agammaglobulinemia: no B cell development
  • Defects in receiving T cell signals can cause hyper IgM syndrome (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010;125:778)
Positive stains
Negative stains
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