Regulatory roles for cytokine-producing B cells in infection and autoimmune disease

Curr Dir Autoimmun. 2005:8:25-54. doi: 10.1159/000082086.


Recent experiments have revealed that B cells can regulate the course of immune responses to pathogens and autoantigens by antibody-independent mechanisms. One antibody-independent function of B cells is to produce cytokines. In this review we describe the identification of IL-10-producing 'regulatory' B cells as well as IFNgamma-producing 'effector' Bel cells and IL-4-producing 'effector' Be2 cells. We discuss the roles of antigen, pathogen-derived molecules and T cell and dendritic cell-derived factors in regulating the differentiation of mature B cells into cytokine-producing effector B cells. We also review the recent experiments showing that B cell-derived cytokines play pathologic as well as protective roles in immune responses to autoantigens, and demonstrate that cytokine-producing B cells play unexpectedly complex and potentially opposing roles in autoimmune disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphotoxin-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lymphotoxin-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma