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J Immunol. 2007 Dec 1;179(11):7225-32.

Intravenous transfusion of BCR-activated B cells protects NOD mice from type 1 diabetes in an IL-10-dependent manner.

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Laboratory of Autoimmune Diabetes, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.


Although B cells play a pathogenic role in the initiation of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in NOD mice, it is not known whether activated B cells can maintain tolerance and transfer protection from T1D. In this study, we demonstrate that i.v. transfusion of BCR-stimulated NOD spleen B cells into NOD mice starting at 5-6 wk of age both delays onset and reduces the incidence of T1D, whereas treatment initiated at 9 wk of age only delays onset of T1D. This BCR-activated B cell-induced protection from T1D requires IL-10 production by B cells, as transfusion of activated B cells from NOD.IL-10(-/-) mice does not confer protection from T1D. Consistent with this result, severe insulitis was observed in the islets of NOD recipients of transfused NOD.IL-10(-/-) BCR-stimulated B cells but not in the islets of NOD recipients of transfused BCR-stimulated NOD B cells. The therapeutic effect of transfused activated NOD B cells correlates closely with the observed decreased islet inflammation, reduced IFN-gamma production and increased production of IL-4 and IL-10 by splenocytes and CD4(+) T cells from NOD recipients of BCR-stimulated NOD B cells relative to splenocytes and CD4(+) T cells from PBS-treated control NOD mice. Our data demonstrate that transfused BCR-stimulated B cells can maintain long-term tolerance and protect NOD mice from T1D by an IL-10-dependent mechanism, and raise the possibility that i.v. transfusion of autologous IL-10-producing BCR-activated B cells may be used therapeutically to protect human subjects at risk for T1D.

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