B lymphocyte maturation in cultures from blood of elderly men: a comparison of plaque-forming cells, cells containing intracytoplasmic immunoglobulin and cell proliferation.
We have found, in 7-day pokeweed mitogen stimulated cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, a marked deficiency in aged men (over 75 years) in maturation of B cells to antibody-producing cells. This finding was equally true whether maturation was measured by B cells with the specific function of producing anti-sheep erythrocyte plaques or by the histochemical technique of staining with fluorescent anti-globulin serum for plasmacytoid changes. The defect was functional, in that total cells at the end of 7 days of culture were numerically the same in young and old subjects. These differences were striking and almost uniform in aged subjects. Mixed leukocyte cocultures of young--old pairs revealed no suppression to account for defective B lymphocyte differentiation. Similarly, increased concentrations of pokeweed mitogen failed to stimulate the cells of the very elderly. Currently, we have no ready immunological explanation of these findings, and report the observation as a possible inherent cellular defect associated with extreme old age.
Hollingsworth, JW; Otte, RG
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