The Department of Biomedicine

BBB Seminar: Kathrine Skarstein

Long-lived plasma cells and their survival niches in Sjögren's syndrome

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Kathrine Skarstein
Section for Pathology, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen

Long-lived plasma cells survive in a protected microenvironment for years or even a lifetime and provide humoral memory by establishing persistent antibody titers. Long-lived autoreactive plasma cells are likewise protected in their survival niche and are resistant to immunosuppressive treatment. Their elimination remains a therapeutic challenge. Recent data indicate that long-lived plasma cells reside in a multicomponent plasma cell niche providing essential soluble and membrane-bound survival factors. Whereas the large majority of long-lived plasma cells are localized in the bone marrow, they are also found in lymphatic organs as well as in chronically inflamed tissues such as the synovium in rheumatoid arthritis and the salivary glands in Sjögren’s syndrome (SS). In studying the salivary glands of primary SS patients, niches rich in specific factors vital for survival of plasma cells were found. Presence of survival niches rich in the chemokine CXCL12 and interleukin IL-6 increased with severity of the SS disease. An association between accumulation of plasma cells and CXCL12 expressing high endothelial venules were also detected exclusively in the salivary gland tissue of the patients.

Understanding the local factors necessary for plasma cell survival at the site of inflammation could result in discovery of more selective therapeutic options.

Host: Ellen Berggreen, Department of Biomedicine