Regulatory B cell production of IL-10 inhibits lymphoma depletion during CD20 immunotherapy in mice

J Clin Invest. 2011 Nov;121(11):4268-80. doi: 10.1172/JCI59266. Epub 2011 Oct 24.


Current therapies for non-Hodgkin lymphoma commonly include CD20 mAb to deplete tumor cells. However, the response is not durable in a substantial proportion of patients. Herein, we report our studies in mice testing the hypothesis that heterogeneity in endogenous tissue CD20+ B cell depletion influences in vivo lymphoma therapy. Using highly effective CD20 mAbs that efficiently deplete endogenous mature B cells and homologous CD20+ primary lymphoma cells through monocyte- and antibody-dependent mechanisms, we found that lymphoma depletion and survival were reduced when endogenous host B cells were not depleted, particularly a rare IL-10-producing B cell subset (B10 cells) known to regulate inflammation and autoimmunity. Even small numbers of adoptively transferred B10 cells dramatically suppressed CD20 mAb-mediated lymphoma depletion by inhibiting mAb-mediated monocyte activation and effector function through IL-10-dependent mechanisms. However, the activation of innate effector cells using a TLR3 agonist that did not activate B10 cells overcame the negative regulatory effects of endogenous B10 cells and enhanced lymphoma depletion during CD20 immunotherapy in vivo. Thus, we conclude that endogenous B10 cells are potent negative regulators of innate immunity, with even small numbers of residual B10 cells able to inhibit lymphoma depletion by CD20 mAbs. Consequently, B10 cell removal could provide a way to optimize CD20 mAb-mediated clearance of malignant B cells in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, CD20 / genetics
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-10 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / therapy*
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Poly I-C / pharmacology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20
  • IL10 protein, mouse
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Interleukin-10
  • Poly I-C