Plasma cells in immunopathology: Concepts and therapeutic strategies

Benjamin Tiburzy, Upasana Kulkarni, Anja Erika Hauser, Melanie Abram, Rudolf Armin Manz*

*Corresponding author for this work
18 Citations (Scopus)


Plasma cells are terminally differentiated B cells that secrete antibodies, important for immune protection, but also contribute to any allergic and autoimmune disease. There is increasing evidence that plasma cell populations exhibit a considerable degree of heterogeneity with respect to their immunophenotype, migration behavior, lifetime, and susceptibility to immunosuppressive drugs. Pathogenic long-lived plasma cells are refractory to existing therapies. In contrast, short-lived plasma cells can be depleted by steroids and cytostatic drugs. Therefore, long-lived plasma cells are responsible for therapy-resistant autoantibodies and resemble a challenge for the therapy of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases. Both lifetime and therapy resistance of plasma cells are supported by factors produced within their microenviromental niches. Current results suggest that plasma cell differentiation and survival factors such as IL-6 also signal via mammalian miRNAs within the plasma cell to modulate downstream transcription factors. Recent evidence also suggests that plasma cells and/or their immediate precursors (plasmablasts) can produce important cytokines and act as antigen-presenting cells, exhibiting so far underestimated roles in immune regulation and bone homeostasis. Here, we provide an overview on plasma cell biology and discuss exciting, experimental, and potential therapeutic approaches to eliminate pathogenic plasma cells.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSeminars in Immunopathology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 05.2014

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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