I was recently at a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society conference where a particular oncologist lecturer claimed that all antibodies are created in the bone marrow (I won't mention his name, as he was a great lecturer, and I don't wish to sully his name if he happened to be wrong on this particular point).

Wikipedia seems to indicate that antigens are produced in "Secondary Lymphatic Organs" or occasionally in the bone marrow, but I've been misled by Wikipedia before. It seems to me that evolution would favor creating antibodies close to the infection, and not far away in the bone marrow or lymphatic organs (how would the antibodies "know" how to get back to the original infection? It would be very inefficient to send antibodies all over the body if the infection is localized.)

My questions is: Could someone "map out" the travel of a typical B-cell throughout the body from the time the B-cell detects an antigen up to the time it produces antibodies (and if it later stops producing anti-bodies, please include that)?

  • $\begingroup$ Related question: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/15390/… $\endgroup$
    – Roland
    Feb 6, 2017 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ You are asking multiple questions here. The answer to the first two questions can be found in the post mentioned by @Roland. Please edit your post so that it does not contain multiple questions. $\endgroup$
    Feb 6, 2017 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ I'd be careful drawing conclusions about the location of events in the life of a B-cell from the answer to the question linked above. It's generally good, but has an important error if it is being used to answer this particular question. $\endgroup$
    – De Novo
    Oct 30, 2018 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


The oncologist seems to be incorrect.

Antibodies are created all over the body inside secondary lymphatic organs (lymphatic nodes) or any other mucosal associated lymphatic tissue (MALT).

B cells mature in the bone marrow and finish their maturity in the periphery, then they can live in lymph nodes, MALT, spleen, omentum or other structures and they can create antibodies in all of those structures.

In regard of your localized infection question, you are right. When a pathogen enters the body the B cells closer to it are in the lymph node that is closer to that site and thus there is where the antibody response will take place. That is why when you have a sore throat (throat infection) your tonsils are swollen (they are lymphatic organs too).

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    $\begingroup$ While your answer is good, it would be great if you could add some sources to it. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 15, 2020 at 9:07

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