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Developmental Immunology
Volume 5 (1998), Issue 3, Pages 153-159

Maturation of B Cells in the Lamina Propria of Human Gut and Bronchi in the First Months of Human Life

1Laboratoire d'Immunologie, Faculté de Médecine, BP 184, Vandoeuvre les Nancy 54500, France
2Hopital d'Enfants, CHU de Brabois, Vandoeuvre Les Nancy, France

Received 11 June 1996; Accepted 5 December 1996

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Little is known of the maturation of the mucosae-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) in man, because, for ethical reasons, tissues from newborns are not easy to obtain. We used the opportunity provided by autopsies systematically performed in infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to study the maturation of the MALT after birth. Gut and bronchus samples of 90 infants from postpartum to 90 months and who died from SIDS were collected and studied by histological and immunofluorescence examination. Plasma cells, absent at birth, appeared within a few hours after birth and initially were of the IgM isotype. IgA plasma cells appeared at 12 days. These cells were first observed in gut and later in bronchi, indicating that maturation of the gut precedes that of bronchi. The number of plasma cells increased rapidly over time and IgA plasma cells became predominant after 3 weeks in the gut and 6 weeks in bronchi. At birth, only small IgM bearing B-cell foci were seen and organized germinal centers appeared to develop over a few days, first in the gut and only later in bronchi. These results confirm that, in man, the MALT organization at birth is still in its fetal form and that maturation depends on intestinal challenges and evolves over several weeks before IgA becomes the predominant isotype secreted.