B cells with immune-regulating function in transplantation

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Abstract

In transplantation, the contribution of B cells to the rejection or acceptance of the allograft is a topic of major interest. The presence of donor-specific antibodies in transplant recipients is often associated with decreased graft function and rejection, clearly indicating a pathogenetic role of B cells in transplantation. However, data from studies in humans and rodents suggest that under certain conditions, B cells have the capacity to control or regulate the immune response to a transplanted organ. Although a great deal of attention has been focused on B cells in human and murine models of autoimmunity, our understanding of the role of these cells in transplantation is limited at present. Indeed, results in this setting are controversial and seem to depend on the model system used or the clinical situation studied. Here, we review the current understanding of the various phenotypes and roles that have been associated with immune-regulating B cells. We also discuss the mechanisms employed by subsets of these regulatory B cells to control the immune response in transplant recipients and in animal models of transplantation.

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