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J Immunol. 1998 Sep 1;161(5):2223-31.

Critical role of IL-12 in dendritic cell-induced differentiation of naive B lymphocytes.

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  • 1Laboratory for Immunological Research, Schering Plough, Dardilly, France.


Dendritic cells (DC) are potent APCs initiating immune responses. In a previous report, we demonstrated that DC directly enhance both proliferation and differentiation of CD40-activated naive and memory B cells. The present study deciphers the molecular mechanisms involved in DC-dependent regulation of B cell responses. Herein, we have identified IL-12 as the mandatory molecule secreted by CD40-activated DC that promote the differentiation of naive B cells into plasma cells secreting high levels of IgM. In fact, IL-12 synergizes with soluble IL-6R alpha-chain (sgp80), produced by DC, to drive naive B cell differentiation. IL-12 is critical for the differentiation of naive B cells into IgM plasma cells, whereas IL-6R signaling mainly promotes Ig secretion by already differentiated B cells. The differentiation of naive B cells in cocultures of B cells, T cells, and DC is IL-12 dependent, definitely demonstrating that the role of DC in humoral responses is not confined to the activation of T cells and further extending the physiologic relevance of DC/B cell interaction. Finally, this study also identifies differential requirements for DC-dependent naive and memory B cell differentiation, the latter being IL-12 independent. Altogether these results indicate that, in addition to prime T cells toward Thl development, DC, through the production of IL-12, may also directly signal naive B cell during the initiation of the immune response.

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