Introduction: Interleukin-10 (IL-10) producing B cells, also known as regulatory B (Breg) cells, play a key role in controlling autoimmunity. Our laboratory and others have demonstrated a pivotal role for Bregs in rheumatological disorders, including experimental models of arthritis and lupus. The aim of this study was to identify the role of endogenous IL-10 secreting B cells in vivo in controlling the induction and disease progression of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA).
Methods: We generated chimeric mice that had IL-10 knocked-out specifically in the B cell population. These mice were compared with wild-type (WT) B cell chimeric mice for their susceptibility to CIA.
Results: Here we report that chimeric mice specifically lacking IL-10 producing B cells (IL-10-/- B cell) developed an exacerbated CIA compared to chimeric wild type B cell (WT B cell) mice. A marked increase in inflammatory Th1 and Th17 cells were detected in IL-10-/-B cell mice compared to WT B cell mice. Furthermore, there was a reduction in IL-10 secreting CD4+ Tr1 cells in these animals.
Conclusions: IL-10 producing B cells restrain inflammation by promoting differentiation of immuno-regulatory over pro-inflammatory T cells and, hence, act to maintain tolerance.