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J Leukoc Biol. 2009 Oct;86(4):1007-16. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0309203. Epub 2009 Jul 9.

Hyperactivated B cells in human inflammatory bowel disease.

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Section of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


IBD is characterized by a chronic, dysregulated immune response to intestinal bacteria. Past work has focused on the role of T cells and myeloid cells in mediating chronic gastrointestinal and systemic inflammation. Here, we show that circulating and tissue B cells from CD patients demonstrate elevated basal levels of activation. CD patient B cells express surface TLR2, spontaneously secrete high levels of IL-8, and contain increased ex vivo levels of phosphorylated signaling proteins. CD clinical activity correlates directly with B cell expression of IL-8 and TLR2, suggesting a positive relationship between these B cell inflammatory mediators and disease pathogenesis. In contrast, B cells from UC patients express TLR2 but generally do not demonstrate spontaneous IL-8 secretion; however, significant IL-8 production is inducible via TLR2 stimulation. Furthermore, UC clinical activity correlates inversely with levels of circulating TLR2+ B cells, which is opposite to the association observed in CD. In conclusion, TLR2+ B cells are associated with clinical measures of disease activity and differentially associated with CD- and UC-specific patterns of inflammatory mediators, suggesting a formerly unappreciated role of B cells in the pathogenesis of IBD.

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