• IgA deficiency;
  • B lymphocytes;
  • CD40;
  • IL-10;
  • immunoglobulin production

In search for a possible explanation of the phenotypic heterogeneity in IgA deficiency, we studied the function of B cells from IgA-deficient (IgAd) individuals. Two groups of IgAd individuals, one frequently infected and one clinically apparently healthy, as well as normal controls, were studied. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and B cells from IgAd individuals and controls were cultured with Staphylococcus aureus Cowan I strain and with anti-CD40 MoAb presented on the CD32-transfected fibroblast cell line in the presence of IL-10. In this experimental system PBMC and B cells from the infection-prone IgAd individuals produced only minute amounts of IgA. In contrast, PBMC and B cells from healthy IgAd subjects secreted significantly more IgA1 and IgA2 in comparison with infection-prone IgAd patients (P < 0.05). These data suggest that the abnormalities of B cell differentiation in IgAd could be of heterogeneous origin. Thus, whereas in healthy IgAd subjects IgA production may be efficiently up-regulated in vitro by addition of IL-10 to CD40-activated B cell culture, the corresponding B cell differentiation does not occur in infection-prone IgAd patients. These observations provide a conceptual framework for phenotypic heterogeneity in IgAd subjects.