Bone marrow nonneoplastic


Plasma cells

Last author update: 1 September 2012
Last staff update: 11 May 2021

Copyright: 2002-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Bone marrow plasma cells [title]

Dragos C. Luca, M.D.
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Cite this page: Luca DC. Plasma cells. website. Accessed June 3rd, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Usually less than 1% of marrow cells; rare in infants
  • Often perivascular and in particle crush specimens
  • Indeterminate lifespan ranging from days to months
  • Produces and secretes antibodies
  • Plasmablast: precursor to plasma cell, produces more antibodies than B cells but less than mature plasma cells
  • Plasma cells: the last stage of B cell maturation, express CD38 but lose CD19
  • Differentiation of mature B cells into plasma cells is dependent upon the transcription factors Blimp1 / PRDM1 and IRF4
  • Unlike their precursors, plasma cells cannot act as antigen presenting cells because they no longer display MHC II; they do not take up antigen because they no longer display significant quantities of immunoglobulin on the cell surface
  • Plasma cells they cannot switch antibody classes and can only produce a single kind of antibody in a single class of immunoglobulin
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Ovoid cells with abundant deep blue cytoplasm and perinuclear hof, eccentric nucleus with coarse chromatin and clock face (art wheel) pattern
  • May have occasional binucleated cells; no nucleoli
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Plasma cells

Plasma cells in myeloma

Positive stains
Negative stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Prominent Golgi zone and rough endoplasmic reticulum
Electron microscopy images

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Plasma cell without labels

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