Secretory products of multiple sclerosis B cells are cytotoxic to oligodendroglia in vitro

J Neuroimmunol. 2012 May 15;246(1-2):85-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2012.02.015. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


B cells are important in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and some of the effects are not dependent on maturation of B cells into immunoglobulin (Ig) producing plasmablasts and plasma cells. B cells present antigen, activate T cells, and are involved in immunoregulation and cytokine secretion. To determine if B cells from MS patients secrete products that have deleterious effects on glial cells not mediated by Ig, and to compare effects with secretory products of normal controls (NC), we isolated B cells from 7 patients with relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) and 4 NC. B cells were cultured alone or after stimulation with CD40 ligand (CD40L), CD40L+cross-linking of the B cell antigen receptor (xBCR) and CD40L+xBCR+stimulation of toll like receptor 9 (TLR9). Supernatants were harvested and incubated with mixed central nervous system (CNS) neonatal rat glial cells. Supernatants from unstimulated NC B cells induced on average death of 7% (range 0-24%) of differentiated oligodendrocytes (OL); in contrast, supernatants from unstimulated B cells from RRMS patients induced death of 57% (range 35-74%) of OL. Supernatants of stimulated B cells from NC did not increase the minimal OL death whereas stimulation of B cells from RRMS had variable results compared to unstimulated B cells. Supernatants from both NC and RRMS induced microglial enlargement and loss of normal resting bipolar morphology. OL death did not correlate with levels of tumor necrosis alpha (TNF-α), lymphotoxin alpha (LT-α), interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-10, transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) or any combination or ratio of these cytokines. Analysis of 26 supernatants from NC and RRMS patients failed to detect IgM. There were very low levels of IgG in 8 of the 26 supernatants, and no correlation between of OL death and presence or absence of IgG. Sera used in both the B cell and glial cell cultures were heated, which inactivates complement. The effects of B cell supernatants on OL could be direct and/or indirect involving either microglia and/or astrocytes. The identity of the toxic factor(s) is as yet unknown. Thus we have demonstrated that B cells from patients with RRMS but not NC secrete one or more factors toxic to OL. It is possible that such factors produced by peripheral blood B cells when within the CNS could contribute to demyelination in MS patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology
  • Cell Death / immunology*
  • Cell-Free System / immunology
  • Cell-Free System / metabolism
  • Cell-Free System / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / pathology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / immunology*
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*
  • Rats