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B Lymphocytes

  1. Subbarao Bondada1,
  2. Ralph L Chelvarajan2,
  3. Murali Gururajan3

Published Online: 15 MAY 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001121.pub3



How to Cite

Bondada, S., Chelvarajan, R. L. and Gururajan, M. 2013. B Lymphocytes. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

  2. 2

    University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

  3. 3

    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAY 2013


Bone marrow-derived (B) lymphocytes are antibody-producing cells in the body. Antibody production is initiated on recognition of antigen via a specific immunoglobulin receptor, and reception of growth and differentiation signals. B lymphocytes are also important for the activation of helper T lymphocytes and are integral for the memory component of the immune response. A variety of B cell subsets exist that have distinct phenotypes and functions. Effector B cells mediate B-cell responses to antigens and vaccines, whereas regulatory B cells mediate suppression of T cells. In addition to antibody secretion, B cells present antigen to T cells, and B-cell secretion of soluble factors like cytokines and chemokines is important for B-cell responses to infectious diseases. Excessive or uncontrolled B-cell activation lead to the development of B-cell lymphoma and autoimmune diseases. Therapeutic antibodies that deplete B cells are in clinical use for the treatment of B-cell lymphomas and B cell-mediated autoimmune diseases.

Key Concepts:

  • B cells develop in the bone marrow.

  • B lymphocytes mediate antibody responses.

  • B cell maturation occurs in the bone marrow and in the spleen.

  • Mature B cells reside in the secondary lymphoid organs like spleen and lymph nodes.

  • B cell subsets are defined by surface marker expression and phenotypic characteristics.

  • Thymus independent (TI) antigens activate B cells without a need for antigen-specific helper T cells. Thymus-dependent (TD) antigens have an obligate requirement for cognate interaction with antigen-specific helper T cells to activate B cells.

  • B cells differentiate into plasma cells that secrete antibodies.

  • Antibodies bind to antigens and neutralise the infection (neutralising antibodies).

  • B cell depletion is an effective therapy in B lymphoma and autoimmune diseases.


  • antibodies;
  • B-1 cells;
  • B-2 cells;
  • cytokines;
  • isotype switching;
  • memory cells;
  • thymus-independent antigens;
  • thymus-dependent antigens