Rapamycin prevents bronchiolitis obliterans through increasing infiltration of regulatory B cells in a murine tracheal transplantation model

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B lymphocytes are generally considered to be activators of the immune response; however, recent findings have shown that a subtype of B lymphocytes, regulatory B lymphocytes, play a role in attenuating the immune response. Bronchiolitis obliterans remains the major limitation to modern-day lung transplantation. The role of regulatory B lymphocytes in bronchiolitis obliterans has not been elucidated. We hypothesized that regulatory B lymphocytes play a role in the attenuation of bronchiolitis obliterans.


We performed a standard heterotopic tracheal transplant model. Tracheas from Balb/c mice were transplanted into C57BL/6 recipients. Rapamycin treatment and dimethyl sulfoxide control groups were each treated for the first 14 days after the transplant. Tracheas were collected on days 7, 14, and 28 post-transplantation. Luminal obliteration was evaluated by hematoxylin–eosin staining and Picrosirius red staining. Immune cell infiltration and characteristics, and secretion of interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-β1 were accessed by immunohistochemistry. Cytokines and transforming growth factor-β1 were measured using the Luminex assay (Bio-Rad, Hercules, Calif).


The results revealed that intraperitoneal injection of rapamycin for 14 days after tracheal transplantation significantly reduced luminal obliteration on day 28 when compared with the dimethyl sulfoxide control group (97.78% ± 3.63% vs 3.02% ± 2.14%, P < .001). Rapamycin treatment markedly induced regulatory B lymphocytes (B220+IgM+IgG−IL-10+TGF-β1+) cells when compared with dimethyl sulfoxide controls. Rapamycin treatment inhibited interleukin-1β, 6, 13, and 17 on days 7 and 14. Rapamycin also greatly increased interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-β1 production in B cells and regulatory T lymphocytes infiltration on day 28.


Mammalian target of rapamycin inhibition decreases the development of bronchiolitis obliterans via inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines and increasing regulatory B lymphocytes cell infiltration, which subsequently produces anti-inflammatory cytokines and upregulates regulatory T lymphocyte cells.

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