, Volume 257, Issue 3, pp 459-470

Splenic outer periarterial lymphoid sheath (PALS): An immunoproliferative microenvironment constituted by antigen-laden marginal metallophils and ED2-positive macrophages in the rat

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In an attempt to reveal the role of antigen-laden marginal metallophil (MM) and other macrophages in the intrasplenic immune response of a specific B-cell lineage to a thymus-independent type-2 antigen (Ficoll conjugated with fluorescein isothiocyanate), simultaneous immuno-histological observations of the involved cells were performed in the rat. By newly established methods of double or triple immunostainings, time-kinetics of the following parameters were studied and compared: (1) the antigen, (2) the specific antibody-forming cells (AFC) directed to the fluorescein-isothiocyanate determinant, (3) proliferating cells labeled with 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU), and (4) macrophage subpopulations recognized by monoclonal antibodies (ED2 and ED3). The antigen localized stably not only in the marginal-zone macrophages but also in the MM except around the follicular area. The increase of BrdU-positive cells was observed from day 2 up to day 4 after antigen injection mostly in the periphery of the periarterial lymphoid sheath (outer PALS), which indicated antigen-induced proliferation. As a novel finding, the majority of AFC, both BrdU-positive and -negative, were either closely associated with the antigen-laden MM, or forming cell clusters with ED2-positive macrophages in the outer PALS. In contrast, there were very few AFC in juxtaposition to antigen-free MM in the follicular area or the antigen-laden marginal zone macrophages. The results led to the proposal of a hypothesis that the antigen-laden MM together with ED2-positive macrophages constitute an immunoproliferative microenvironment for the plasmacellular reaction by accumulating the antigen-specific B-cell lineage and promoting these cells to differentiate into the AFC and to proliferate in the outer PALS.