Appearance of immature/transitional B cells in HIV-infected individuals with advanced disease: correlation with increased IL-7.
Progression of HIV disease is associated with the appearance of numerous B cell defects. We describe herein a population of immature/transitional B cells that is overly represented in the peripheral blood of individuals with advancing HIV disease. These B cells, identified by the expression of CD10, were unresponsive by proliferation to B cell receptor triggering and possessed a phenotype and an Ig diversity profile that confirmed their immature/transitional stage of differentiation. Consistent with an immature status, their lack of proliferation to B cell receptor triggering was reversed with CD40 ligand, but not B cell activation factor. Finally, levels of CD10 expression on B cells were directly correlated with serum levels of IL-7, suggesting that increased levels of IL-7 modulate human B cell maturation either directly or indirectly by means of a homeostatic effect on lymphopenia. Taken together, these data offer insight into human B cell development as well as B cell dysfunction in advanced HIV disease that may be linked to IL-7-dependent homeostatic events.