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Multiple Myeloma: The Basics – What Is A Plasma Cell

Home/Multiple Myeloma: The Basics – What Is A Plasma Cell

Multiple Myeloma: The Basics – What Is A Plasma Cell

I promised to post more basic information from time to time, both as a review and for new readers.  You can’t get any more basic than this article about plasma cells I found on OncoLink.Org:

By Eric Shinohara, MD, MSCI – Affiliation: Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
What is a plasma cell?
Plasma cells are a mature type of B lymphocyte that usually make up less than 5% of the cells in the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a spongy material found primarily in the center of long bones. Bone marrow is comprised of a variety of cells, which gradually mature to form:
Red blood cells (also known as erythrocytes), which carry inhaled oxygen from the lungs to other organs and carry carbon dioxide from the organs to the lungs to be exhaled.
Platelets (also known as thrombocytes), which form clots.

White blood cells (also known as leukocytes), which are comprised of granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes, each of which has a different role in the immune system. Lymphocytes are made up of B and T lymphocytes. Plasma cells are a mature form of B-lymphocytes, which produce antibodies.

There are a large number of different pathogens, such as bacteria or viruses, which can attack your body. When your immune system fights an infection, it needs to make an antibody that specifically targets the pathogen causing that infection. Each plasma cell can only produce one specific kind of antibody. Individual plasma cells can then divide repeatedly to form copies of themselves, known as clones. This group of clonal plasma cells can produce large amounts of a single kind of antibody to fight the infection. There are several thousand different populations of plasma cell clones, which then allow the immune system to make a wide variety of antibodies to target the many different kinds of pathogens. Antibodies coat the pathogen that they are built to attack, and thus make it easier for other immune cells to also attack the pathogen. Cancer of the plasma cells is called multiple myeloma.

Nothing like some “light reading” with your coffee in the am to get your day off to a great start!  It could have been worse… You should have viewed some of the clinical study data I flipped through this morning.  Feel good, keep smiling and have a great day!  Pat