Journal of Immunology vol:187 issue:7 pages:3587-94
The characteristic microarchitecture of the marginal zone (MZ), formed by locally interacting MZ-specific B cells, macrophages, and endothelial cells, is critical for productive marginal zone B cell (MZB cell) Ab responses. Reportedly, IL-7-deficient mice, although severely lymphopenic, retain small numbers of CD21(high)CD23(low) B cells consistent with MZB cell phenotype, suggesting that IL-7 signaling is not exclusively required for MZB cell lymphopoiesis. In this study, we investigated the function of IL-7(-/-) MZB cells and the IL-7(-/-) microenvironment using a model of hamster heart xenograft rejection, which depends exclusively on MZB cell-mediated production of T cell-independent IgM xenoantibodies (IgMXAb). C57BL/6-IL-7(-/-) mice accepted xenografts indefinitely and failed to produce IgMXAb, even after transfer of additional IL-7(-/-) or wild-type C57BL/6 MZB cells. Transfer of wild-type but not IL-7(-/-) B cells enabled SCID mice to produce IgMXAb. When transferred to SCID mice, wild-type but not IL-7(-/-) B cells formed B cell follicles with clearly defined IgM(+), MOMA-1(+), and MAdCAM-1(+) MZ structures. Conversely, adoptively transferred GFP(+) C57BL/6 B cells homed to the MZ area in a SCID but not an IL-7(-/-) environment. Naive IL-7(-/-) mice showed absent or aberrant splenic B cell structures. We provide evidence that IL-7 is critical for the development of the intrinsic function of MZB cells in producing rapidly induced IgM against T cell-independent type II Ags, for their homing potential, and for the development of a functional MZ microanatomy capable of attracting and lodging MZB cells.