6. Regulatory Roles of B Cells in Allergy and Inflammation

  1. Kenji Izuhara MD, PhD3,
  2. Stephen T. Holgate MD, DSc, FMedSci4 and
  3. Marsha Wills-Karp PhD5
  1. Kiyoshi Takatsu PhD1,2,
  2. Masashi Ikutani PhD1 and
  3. Yoshinori Nagai MD, PhD1

Published Online: 27 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444346688.ch6

Inflammation and Allergy Drug Design

Inflammation and Allergy Drug Design

How to Cite

Takatsu, K., Ikutani, M. and Nagai, Y. (2011) Regulatory Roles of B Cells in Allergy and Inflammation, in Inflammation and Allergy Drug Design (eds K. Izuhara, S. T. Holgate and M. Wills-Karp), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444346688.ch6

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Division of Medical Biochemistry, Saga Medical School, Nabeshima, Saga, Japan

  2. 4

    School of Medicine, Allergy and Inflammation Research, Southampton General Hospital, University Medicine, Southampton, UK

  3. 5

    Division of Immunology, Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Immunobiology and Pharmacological Genetics, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science, University of Toyama, Sugitani, Toyama City, Toyama, Japan

  2. 2

    Toyama Prefectural Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, Naka - Taikouyama, Imizu-shi, Toyama, Japan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 JUL 2011
  2. Published Print: 13 AUG 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444330144

Online ISBN: 9781444346688



  • B cells, and regulatory roles - in allergy and inflammation;
  • immune systems, falling - into two categories, innate and acquired immunity;
  • responses mediated by macrophages - and dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer T (NKT) cells, NK cells, B-1 cells;
  • acquired immune responses, in late phase of infection - generation of immunologic memory;
  • cytokines and chemokines, by T cells - and inflammatory cells, phagocytosis of innate cells and protection against pathogens;
  • regulation of IgE production - by B cells in local tissues;
  • hallmark of allergic response - sensitization of mast cells and basophils in local tissues, by immunoglobulin E (Ig-E) antibodies;
  • mature B cells expressing surface IgM - B-1 and conventional B (B-2) cells, regulating innate and acquired immune responses;
  • B-1 cell, initiator of contact sensitivity;
  • B cells, and key role in allergic inflammation


B cells freely circulate throughout the body, particularly to sites of inflammation and infection in which they are activated by exogenous antigens, T helper cells, or pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) leading to antigen-specific antibody-forming cells. In some cases, B cells regulate the allergic and inflammatory response by producing allergen-specific antibodies in immunoglobulin E (IgE) and IgM subclasses. Intriguingly, two types of B-cell subsets, initiator B and regulatory B cells, have been postulated to play a role in contact hypersensitivity; however, the role of each of these subsets remains elusive.

The IgE antibody plays a central role in allergic immune responses and is essential for host defense against pathogens in mucosal tissues. Serum levels of IgE are very low in healthy individuals, but elevated levels of IgE are observed in patients with allergic diseases. Reducing IgE concentrations dampens allergic responses, such as those observed in asthma, anaphylaxis, and hyper-IgE disorder. B cells are key players in all aspects of adaptive immune responses and are responsible for IgE antibodies. There are at least four different obligatory events for IgE production by B cells, namely cognate interaction of antigen-specific B cells with antigen-specific type II T helper (Th2) cells, B-cell division and differentiation in the germinal center, IgE class-switch recombination, and differentiation of activated B cells into memory B cells and IgE-secreting plasma cells.

The engineering of antibodies that can modulate the immune system and inflammation is an emerging field. For therapeutic ends such as prevention from allergy, monoclonal antibodies against IgE, cytokines and their receptors, or immunoregulatory molecules have been engineered to neutralize IgE and block cytokine and co-stimulatory signals. In this section, we will discuss the regulatory roles of B cells in allergy and the immune system.