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Sci Transl Med. 2013 Feb 20;5(173):173ra23. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005407.

CD19+CD24hiCD38hi B cells maintain regulatory T cells while limiting TH1 and TH17 differentiation.

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Centre for Rheumatology, Division of Medicine, University College London, 5 University Street, London WC1E 6JF, UK.


The relevance of regulatory B cells in the maintenance of tolerance in healthy individuals or in patients with immune disorders remains understudied. In healthy individuals, CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) B cells suppress CD4(+)CD25(-) T cell proliferation as well as the release of interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α by these cells; this suppression is partially mediated through the production of interleukin-10 (IL-10). We further elucidate the mechanisms of suppression by CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) B cells. Healthy CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) B cells inhibited naïve T cell differentiation into T helper 1 (T(H)1) and T(H)17 cells and converted CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells into regulatory T cells (T(regs)), in part through the production of IL-10. In contrast, CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) B cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) failed to convert CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells into functionally suppressive T(regs) or to curb T(H)17 development; however, they maintained the capacity to inhibit T(H)1 cell differentiation. Moreover, RA patients with active disease have reduced numbers of CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) B cells in peripheral blood compared with either patients with inactive disease or healthy individuals. These results suggest that in patients with active RA, CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) B cells with regulatory function may fail to prevent the development of autoreactive responses and inflammation, leading to autoimmunity.

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