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Regulatory B cells exist -- and pack a punch
Date:5/27/2008

DURHAM, N.C. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have uncovered definitive evidence that a small but potent subset of immune system B cells is able to regulate inflammation.

Using a new set of scientific tools to identify and count these cells, the team showed that these B cells can block contact hypersensitivity, the type of skin reactions that many people have when they brush against poison ivy.

The findings may have large implications for scientists and physicians who develop vaccines and study immune-linked diseases, including cancer. Once the cells that regulate inflammatory responses are identified, scientists may have a better way to develop treatments for many diseases, particularly autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

While the study of regulatory T cells is a hot area with obvious clinical applications, everyone has been pretty skeptical about whether regulatory B cells exist, said Thomas F. Tedder, Ph.D., chairman of the Immunology Department and lead author of the study published in the May issue of Immunity. I am converted. They do exist.

Koichi Yanaba and Jean-David Bouaziz identified this unique subset of small white blood cells, which they call B10 cells, in the Tedder laboratory.

The researchers found that B10 cells produce a potent cytokine, called IL-10 (interleukin-10), a protein that can inhibit immune responses. The B10 cells also can affect the function of T cells, which are immune system cells that generally boost immune responses by producing cytokines. T cells also attack tumors and virus-infected cells.

The study was supported by grants from the NIH, the Association pour la Recherche contre le Cancer (ARC), Foundation Rene Touraine, and the Philippe Foundation.

Depleting B10 cells may enhance some immune responses, Tedder said. Enhancing B10 cell function may inhibit inflammation and immune responses in other diseases,
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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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