Human antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) triggered by immunization are globally recognized as CD19loCD38hiCD27hi. Yet, different vaccines give rise to antibody responses of different longevity, suggesting ASC populations are heterogeneous. We define circulating-ASC heterogeneity in vaccine responses using multicolor flow cytometry, morphology, VH repertoire, and RNA transcriptome analysis. We also tested differential survival using a human cell-free system that mimics the bone marrow (BM) microniche. In peripheral blood, we identified 3 CD19+ and 2 CD19– ASC subsets. All subsets contributed to the vaccine-specific responses and were characterized by in vivo proliferation and activation. The VH repertoire demonstrated strong oligoclonality with extensive interconnectivity among the 5 subsets and switched memory B cells. Transcriptome analysis showed separation of CD19+ and CD19– subsets that included pathways such as cell cycle, hypoxia, TNF-α, and unfolded protein response. They also demonstrated similar long-term in vitro survival after 48 days. In summary, vaccine-induced ASCs with different surface markers (CD19 and CD138) are derived from shared proliferative precursors yet express distinctive transcriptomes. Equal survival indicates that all ASC compartments are endowed with long-lived potential. Accordingly, in vivo survival of peripheral long-lived plasma cells may be determined in part by their homing and residence in the BM microniche.


Swetha Garimilla, Doan C. Nguyen, Jessica L. Halliley, Christopher Tipton, Alexander F. Rosenberg, Christopher F. Fucile, Celia L. Saney, Shuya Kyu, Denise Kaminski, Yu Qian, Richard H. Scheuermann, Greg Gibson, Iñaki Sanz, F. Eun-Hyung Lee


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