Activation-induced cell death in B lymphocytes

Cell Res. 2000 Sep;10(3):179-92. doi: 10.1038/


Upon encountering the antigen (Ag), the immune system can either develop a specific immune response or enter a specific state of unresponsiveness, tolerance. The response of B cells to their specific Ag can be activation and proliferation, leading to the immune response, or anergy and activation-induced cell death (AICD), leading to tolerance. AICD in B lymphocytes is a highly regulated event initiated by crosslinking of the B cell receptor (BCR). BCR engagement initiates several signaling events such as activation of PLCgamma, Ras, and PI3K, which generally speaking, lead to survival. However, in the absence of survival signals (CD40 or IL-4R engagement), BCR crosslinking can also promote apoptotic signal transduction pathways such as activation of effector caspases, expression of pro-apoptotic genes, and inhibition of pro-survival genes. The complex interplay between survival and death signals determines the B cell fate and, consequently, the immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • G1 Phase / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Phospholipase C gamma
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Type C Phospholipases / metabolism


  • Isoenzymes
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4
  • Type C Phospholipases
  • Phospholipase C gamma
  • Caspases