J Immunol 2012 Apr 24;188(7):3188-98. Epub 2012 Feb 24.
Blood Research Institute, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53201-2178, USA.
B cells are important for the regulation of autoimmune responses. In experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), B cells are required for spontaneous recovery in acute models. Production of IL-10 by regulatory B cells has been shown to modulate the severity EAE and other autoimmune diseases. Previously, we suggested that B cells regulated the number of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) T regulatory cells (Treg) in the CNS during EAE. Because Treg suppress autoimmune responses, we asked whether B cells control autoimmunity by maintenance of Treg numbers. B cell deficiency achieved either genetically (μMT) or by depletion with anti-CD20 resulted in a significant reduction in the number of peripheral but not thymic Treg. Adoptive transfer of WT B cells into μMT mice restored both Treg numbers and recovery from EAE. When we investigated the mechanism whereby B cells induce the proliferation of Treg and EAE recovery, we found that glucocorticoid-induced TNF ligand, but not IL-10, expression by B cells was required. Of clinical significance is the finding that anti-CD20 depletion of B cells accelerated spontaneous EAE and colitis. Our results demonstrate that B cells play a major role in immune tolerance required for the prevention of autoimmunity by maintenance of Treg via their expression of glucocorticoid-induced TNFR ligand.
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