The state of activation of normal human intestinal mononuclear cells obtained from transplant donors was studied. Compared with PBMC, freshly isolated intestinal mononuclear cells expressed significantly more cell surface activation antigens on both B and T lymphocytes. Intestinal mononuclear cells contained significant numbers of immunoglobulin secreting cells immediately after cell separation. This population included CD5-positive B cells that secreted predominantly IgA. Cells from the large bowel consistently revealed higher numbers of IgA secreting cells than cells from the small bowel. Thus, intestinal B cells are markedly activated in vivo compared with PBMC and this increased activation correlates with increased spontaneous antibody secretion. B cells from the large intestine are more highly activated and secrete more antibody than do cells from the small intestine. The intestinal lamina propria lymphoid compartment exhibits a heightened state of activation that may be important for its distinct role in mucosal defense.
M G Peters, H Secrist, K R Anders, G S Nash, S R Rich, R P MacDermott