What are regulatory B cells?

Authors

  • David Gray,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Ashworth Labs, Edinburgh, UK
    • Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Ashworth Labs, King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK Fax: +44-131-650-7322
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  • Mohini Gray

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh, Queen's Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh, UK
    • Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh, Queen's Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh, UK Fax:+44-131-650-7322
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Abstract

B cells are now acknowledged to play multiple roles in the immune response, in addition to making antibodies. Their role in regulating T-cell responses during inflammation has come into focus recently. Thus, IL-10 production by B cells has been shown to be important in limiting auto-reactive and pathogen-driven immune pathology; however, the exact identity of the regulatory B cells remains elusive; do they belong to a committed subset or can all B cells regulate given the appropriate inducing stimuli? A study in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology provides insight into the IL-10-producing B cells in humans, suggesting that many B cells have the capacity to make IL-10 when optimally stimulated via the BCR and TLR9. Despite producing significant amounts of inflammatory cytokines as well, these B cells suppress T-cell proliferation. This Commentary places this study in the context of what we think we know about regulatory B cells and more importantly highlights the questions we still need to answer.

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