While much is known about tolerogenic dendritic cell effects on forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3)⁺ regulatory T cells, virtually nothing is known about their effects on another arm of immunoregulation that is mediated by a subpopulation of immunosuppressive B cells. These cells suppress rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and inflammatory bowel disease in mice, and functional defects have been reported in human lupus. We show that co-stimulation-impaired tolerogenic dendritic cells that prevent and reverse type 1 diabetes mellitus induce the proliferation of human immunosuppressive B cells in vitro. We also show that the suppressive properties of these B cells concentrate inside the CD19⁺ CD24⁺ B cell population and more specifically inside the CD19⁺ CD24⁺ CD38⁺ regulatory B cell population. We discovered that B cell conversion into suppressive cells in vitro is partially dependent on dendritic cell production of retinoic acid and also that CD19⁺ CD24⁺ CD38⁺ B regulatory cells express retinoic acid receptors. Taken together, our data suggest a model whereby part of the immunosuppressive properties of human tolerogenic dendritic cells could be mediated by retinoic acid which, in addition to its known role in favouring T cell differentiation to FoxP3⁺ regulatory T cells, acts to convert B cells into immunosuppressive cells.
Keywords: B cells; antigen-presenting cells; autoimmunity; immunomodulation; immunosuppressive.
© 2013 British Society for Immunology.