Attenuated liver fibrosis in the absence of B cells

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Analysis of mononuclear cells in the adult mouse liver revealed that B cells represent as much as half of the intrahepatic lymphocyte population. Intrahepatic B cells (IHB cells) are phenotypically similar to splenic B2 cells but express lower levels of CD23 and CD21 and higher levels of CD5. IHB cells proliferate as well as splenic B cells in response to anti-IgM and LPS stimulation in vitro. VDJ gene rearrangements in IHB cells contain insertions of N,P region nucleotides characteristic of B cells maturing in the adult bone marrow rather than in the fetal liver. To evaluate whether B cells can have an impact on liver pathology, we compared CCl4-induced fibrosis development in B cell–deficient and wild-type mice. CCl4 caused similar acute liver injury in mutant and wild-type mice. However, following 6 weeks of CCl4 treatment, histochemical analyses showed markedly reduced collagen deposition in B cell–deficient as compared with wild-type mice. By analyzing mice that have normal numbers of B cells but lack either T cells or immunoglobulin in the serum, we established that B cells have an impact on fibrosis in an antibody- and T cell–independent manner.

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