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Follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) regulate B cell function and development of high affinity antibody responses but little is known about their biology. FDCs associate in intricate cellular networks within secondary lymphoid organs. In vitro and ex vivo methods, therefore, allow only limited understanding of the genuine immunobiology of FDCs in their native habitat. Herein, we used various multicolor fate mapping systems to investigate the ontogeny and dynamics of lymph node (LN) FDCs in situ. We show that LN FDC networks arise from the clonal expansion and differentiation of marginal reticular cells (MRCs), a population of lymphoid stromal cells lining the LN subcapsular sinus. We further demonstrate that during an immune response, FDCs accumulate in germinal centers and that neither the recruitment of circulating progenitors nor the division of local mature FDCs significantly contributes to this accumulation. Rather, we provide evidence that newly generated FDCs also arise from the proliferation and differentiation of MRCs, thus unraveling a critical function of this poorly defined stromal cell population.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of experimental medicine

Publication Date





1109 - 1122


Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (CIML), Aix-Marseille Université, UM2 Marseille, France Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), UMR_S 1104 Marseille, France Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UMR7280 Marseille, France Aix-Marseille Univ (AMU), F-13284 Marseille, France.


Germinal Center, Dendritic Cells, Follicular, Lymph Nodes, Stromal Cells, Stem Cells, Mesoderm, Animals, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Mice, Knockout, Mice, Luminescent Proteins, Receptors, Complement 3b, Receptors, Complement 3d, Microscopy, Confocal, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Cell Lineage, RANK Ligand