The splenic marginal zone in humans and rodents: an enigmatic compartment and its inhabitants
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- Steiniger, B., Timphus, E.M. & Barth, P.J. Histochem Cell Biol (2006) 126: 641. doi:10.1007/s00418-006-0210-5
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The role of the spleen in B memory cell development and maintenance is attracting increased attention. Studies in mice and rats have indicated that memory functions are associated with large B cells residing in the marginal zone (MZ) of the spleen. Although the cellular composition of the MZ is relatively well known in these species, controversies exist about the function of MZ B cells, their dependence on the presence of the spleen and the stage at which their development branches from that of recirculating follicular B cells. Additional confusion has arisen with respect to MZ B cells in humans, because the microscopic anatomy of the human splenic MZ differs decisively from that of rodents. Several recent publications indicate that the functional and migratory properties of human MZ B cells may be species-specific. The hypothesis derived from these publications and from our immunohistological observations implies that at least a major number of human splenic CD27+ MZ B cells are migratory. Phenotypic data suggest a recirculation pathway between the spleen and mucosal tissues in humans.