Role of B cells in TH cell responses in a mouse model of asthma

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Background:The importance of B lymphocytes to present antigens for antibody production is well documented. In contrast, very little is known about their capacity to influence CD4+ T-cell activation during a primary or secondary response to allergens.Objective:Using mouse models of asthma, we investigated the role of B cells as antigen-presenting cells in priming and maintenance of TH cell responses.Methods:Mice were immunized through the intranasal route with house dust mite (HDM) extract derived fromDermatophagoides pteronyssinus. B cells were depleted in HDM-sensitized animals to investigate the importance of B cells in maintenance of the allergic response. B cells were depleted before HDM sensitization to investigate the role of B cells in T-cell priming; furthermore, HDM sensitization was performed in mice with MHC class II expression restricted to the B-cell lineage.Results:We found that B cells serve as potent antigen-presenting cellsex vivoand restimulatein vivo–primed HDM-specific TH cells. HDM antigens were taken up by B cells independently of B-cell receptor specificity, indicating that HDM uptake and antigen presentation to CD4+ T cells is not restricted to rare B cells carrying HDM-specific B cell receptors. B-cell depletion before HDM challenge in HDM-sensitized mice resulted in a dramatic reduction of allergic response, indicating the role of B cells in amplification of TH2 responses. In contrast, HDM sensitization of mice in which MHC class II expression was restricted to B cells revealed the inability of these cells to prime TH2 responses but highlighted their unexpected role in priming TH1 and TH17 responses.Conclusion:Collectively, these data reveal new mechanisms leading to initiation and exacerbation of the allergic response that might have implications for designing new therapeutic strategies to combat HDM allergy.GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT

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