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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Mar 26;110(13):5133-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1215840110. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

B cells promote inflammation in obesity and type 2 diabetes through regulation of T-cell function and an inflammatory cytokine profile.

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Department of Microbiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have disease-associated changes in B-cell function, but the role these changes play in disease pathogenesis is not well established. Data herein show B cells from obese mice produce a proinflammatory cytokine profile compared with B cells from lean mice. Complementary in vivo studies show that obese B cell-null mice have decreased systemic inflammation, inflammatory B- and T-cell cytokines, adipose tissue inflammation, and insulin resistance (IR) compared with obese WT mice. Reduced inflammation in obese/insulin resistant B cell-null mice associates with an increased percentage of anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells (Tregs). This increase contrasts with the sharply decreased percentage of Tregs in obese compared with lean WT mice and suggests that B cells may be critical regulators of T-cell functions previously shown to play important roles in IR. We demonstrate that B cells from T2D (but not non-T2D) subjects support proinflammatory T-cell function in obesity/T2D through contact-dependent mechanisms. In contrast, human monocytes increase proinflammatory T-cell cytokines in both T2D and non-T2D analyses. These data support the conclusion that B cells are critical regulators of inflammation in T2D due to their direct ability to promote proinflammatory T-cell function and secrete a proinflammatory cytokine profile. Thus, B cells are potential therapeutic targets for T2D.

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