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This article is part of the supplement: 6th Global Arthritis Research Network (GARN) Meeting

Open Badges Poster presentation

IL-21 and BAFF/BLyS synergize in stimulating plasma cell differentiation from human marginal zone B cells as well as from circulating peripheral blood B cells from autoimmune patients

Rachel Ettinger, Stefan Kuchen, Gary P Sims, Rachel Robbins, David Withers, Randy T Fischer and Peter E Lipsky

Author affiliations

Autoimmunity Branch, NIAMS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2007, 9(Suppl 3):P8  doi:10.1186/ar2234

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:19 October 2007

© 2007 BioMed Central Ltd

Poster presentation

IL-21 promotes plasma cell (PC) differentiation while BAFF promotes B-cell survival. Here, we report that IL-21 synergizes with BAFF to elicit BLIMP-1 induction, PC differentiation and IgG production from a novel population of human splenic memory B cells. These human marginal zone analogue B cells are exquisitely sensitive to IL-21 and BAFF in the absence of further co-stimulation. The ability of IgG+ marginal zone analogue to respond specifically and exclusively to IL-21 and BAFF demonstrates that they are uniquely poised to respond to antigen-independent signals and differentiate into IgG-producing PC, thereby replenishing serologic memory. Importantly, peripheral blood B cells from a portion of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis were highly responsive to stimulation with IL-21 and BAFF. These data suggest that IL-21 and BAFF may be capable of inducing PC differentiation from memory B cells with autoreactive specificities and thereby contribute to autoimmunity.