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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 23-27

Identification of Germinal Center B Cells in Blood from HIV-infected Drug-naive Individuals in Central Africa

1GIMAP EA3064, Faculté de Médecine, Université Jean Monnet, 15 Rue A. Paré, Saint Etienne cédex 2 42023, France
2Institut Pasteur de Bangui, Bangui, Central African Republic
3Hôpital Communautaire, Bangui, Central African Republic
4Centre Commun de Cytométrie en Flux, Faculté de Médecine, Université Jean Monnet, 15 Rue A. Paré, Saint Etienne cédex 2 42023, France
5Combined US Military HIV research Program, Rockville, MD, USA
6Service des Maladies Infectieuses, University Hospital, Saint Etienne, France

Copyright © 2004 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.


To better understand the pathophysiology of B cell populations—the precursors of antibody secreting cells—during chronic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, we examined the phenotype of circulating B cells in newly diagnosed Africans. We found that all African individuals displayed low levels of naive B cells and of memory-type CD27+ B cells, and high levels of differentiated B cells. On the other hand, HIV-infected African patients had a population of germinal center B cells (i.e. CD20+, sIgM-, sIgD+, CD77+, CD138±), which are generally restricted to lymph nodes and do not circulate unless the lymph node architecture is altered. The first observations could be linked to the tropical environment whereas the presence of germinal center B cells may be attributable to chronic exposure to HIV as it is not observed in HIV-negative African controls and HAART treated HIV-infected Europeans. It may impact the management of HIV infection in countries with limited access to HIV drugs and urges consideration for implementation of therapeutic vaccines.