The transition of a plasmablast to a mature plasma cell is not well defined. The cell shown here is a normal mature plasma cell. Plasma cells vary in size from 5 to 30 microns in diameter. The nucleus occupies about one-fourth to one-half of the total cell area. It is eccentrically placed, and the nuclear chromatin is clumped and similar to that of a lymphocyte. The cytoplasm is basophilic. The plasma cell is the exception to the rule that as cells mature they become less basophilic. As a plasma cell matures, the cytoplasm becomes more basophilic owing to increasing amounts of RNA, which is responsible for the basophilia. A large, light circular area (Golgi region) is adjacent to the nucleus. The cytoplasm is spongy because of many vacuoles of various sizes. Usually a plasma cell contains one or two large holes in the cytoplasm. Plasma cells are secretory cells whose biologic functions are to synthesize, store, and release immunoglobulins. Plasma cells are found in increased numbers at sites of inflammation.
Course Section: 10. Plasma Cell Dyscrasias
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