[en] BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The expression of cellular prion protein (PrPc) on the surface of peripheral lymphocytes has been previously reported, but little is known about its expression on lymphoid cells from secondary lymph organs. In this report, we compare the surface expression of PrPc on human blood lymphocytes and tonsil lymphocytes. DESIGN AND METHODS: This analysis was performed by cytometry on live lymphocytes isolated from healthy donors or from the tonsils of adults or children. RESULTS: Human peripheral lymphocytes and tonsillar lymphoid cells, but not erythrocytes or granulocytes, express PrPc at their surfaces. Interestingly, we found significantly less PrPc on freshly isolated tonsil lymphocytes, both B and T, than on blood cells. Although tonsil cells bear less PrPc than circulating blood lymphocytes, they are able to express high quantities of PrPc on their surface when placed in culture. However, contrary to previous results, mitogen stimulation does not affect this expression on B- or T-cells. INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that the PrPc expression by lymphocytes may be modified by interactions occurring during intratissular migration or during cell-to-cell contacts. Whether PrPc plays a role in intracellular communication at this location, as it does in the nervous system, remains an open question.