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Nat Immunol. 2010 Dec;11(12):1110-8. doi: 10.1038/ni.1954. Epub 2010 Oct 31.

Plasma cells negatively regulate the follicular helper T cell program.

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Department of Immunology and Microbial Sciences, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.


B lymphocytes differentiate into antibody-secreting cells under the antigen-specific control of follicular helper T cells (T(FH) cells). Here we demonstrate that isotype-switched plasma cells expressed major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, the costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86, and the intracellular machinery required for antigen presentation. Antigen-specific plasma cells accessed, processed and presented sufficient antigen in vivo to induce multiple helper T cell functions. Notably, antigen-primed plasma cells failed to induce interleukin 21 (IL-21) or the transcriptional repressor Bcl-6 in naive helper T cells and actively decreased these key molecules in antigen-activated T(FH) cells. Mice lacking plasma cells showed altered T(FH) cell activity, which provided evidence of this negative feedback loop. Hence, antigen presentation by plasma cells defines a previously unknown layer of cognate regulation that limits the antigen-specific T(FH) cell program that controls ongoing B cell immunity.

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