Objective: The goal of this study was to gain a better understanding of the potential functional specialization of palatine and pharyngeal tonsils, by comparing their cellular composition in paired specimens from a large cohort of adenotonsillectomy patients. Design: Resident B cell, T cell, dendritic cell, and stromal cell subsets were characterized using multicolor flow cytometry in palatine and pharyngeal tonsil specimens from 27 patients, age 2–34 years. Results: Paired comparisons showed highly significant intra-individual differences in resident cell subsets of palatine and pharyngeal tonsils. Palatine tonsils harbored higher fractions of germinal center B cells/plasmablasts and IgD- CD27- double-negative B cells, and conversely lower fractions of IgD + CD38- resting naïve B cells compared to pharyngeal tonsils. Palatine tonsils also showed lower fractions of plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and higher percentages of two subsets of stromal cells - fibroblastic reticular cells and lymphatic endothelial cells - compared to pharyngeal tonsils from the same individual. Conclusions: Despite their physical proximity and histological similarities, palatine and pharyngeal tonsils display marked intra-individual differences in their cellular composition with regard to functionally important immune and stromal subsets. These differences are likely to have immunologic, pathologic, and physiologic significance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology