Not always the bad guys: B cells as regulators of autoimmune pathology

Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 May;8(5):391-7. doi: 10.1038/nri2315.


When B cells react aggressively against self, the potential for pathology is extreme. It is therefore not surprising that B-cell depletion is seen as an attractive therapy in autoimmune diseases. However, B cells can also be essential for restraining unwanted autoaggressive T-cell responses. Recent advances have pointed to interleukin-10 (IL-10) production as a key component in B-cell-mediated immune regulation. In this Opinion article, we develop a hypothesis that triggering of Toll-like receptors controls the propensity of B cells for IL-10 production and immune suppression. According to this model, B cells can translate exposure to certain microbial infections into protection from chronic inflammatory diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD40 Antigens / immunology
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology
  • Communicable Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism


  • CD40 Antigens
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Interleukin-10