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J Immunol. 2011 Nov 1;187(9):4900-6. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1101844. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

B cell depletion enhances T regulatory cell activity essential in the suppression of arthritis.

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Department of Immunology/Microbiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


The efficacy of B cell-depletion therapy in rheumatoid arthritis has driven interest in understanding the mechanism. Because the decrease in autoantibodies in rheumatoid arthritis does not necessarily correlate with clinical outcome, other mechanisms may be operative. We previously reported that in proteoglycan-induced arthritis (PGIA), B cell-depletion inhibits autoreactive T cell responses. Recent studies in B cell-depletion therapy also indicate a role for B cells in suppressing regulatory mechanisms. In this study, we demonstrate that B cells inhibited both the expansion and function of T regulatory (Treg) cells in PGIA. Using an anti-CD20 mAb, we depleted B cells from mice with PGIA and assessed the Treg cell population. Compared to control Ab-treated mice, Treg cell percentages were elevated in B cell-depleted mice, with a higher proportion of CD4(+) T cells expressing Foxp3 and CD25. On a per-cell basis, CD4(+)CD25(+) cells from B cell-depleted mice expressed increased amounts of Foxp3 and were significantly more suppressive than those from control Ab-treated mice. The depletion of Treg cells with an anti-CD25 mAb concurrent with B cell-depletion therapy restored the severity of PGIA to levels equal to untreated mice. Although titers of autoantibodies did not recover to untreated levels, CD4(+) T cell recall responses to the immunizing Ag returned as measured by T cell proliferation and cytokine production. Thus, B cells have the capacity to regulate inflammatory responses by enhancing effector T cells along with suppressing Treg cells.

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