Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by a progressive decline in lung function, caused by exposure to exogenous particles, mainly cigarette smoke (CS). COPD is initiated and perpetuated by an abnormal CS-induced inflammatory response of the lungs, involving both innate and adaptive immunity. Specifically, B cells organized in iBALT structures and macrophages accumulate in the lungs and contribute to CS-induced emphysema, but the mechanisms thereof remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that B cell-deficient mice are significantly protected against CS-induced emphysema. Chronic CS exposure led to an increased size and number of iBALT structures, and increased lung compliance and mean linear chord length in wild-type (WT) but not in B cell-deficient mice. The increased accumulation of lung resident macrophages around iBALT and in emphysematous alveolar areas in CS-exposed WT mice coincided with upregulated MMP12 expression. In vitro coculture experiments using B cells and macrophages demonstrated that B cell-derived IL-10 drives macrophage activation and MMP12 upregulation, which could be inhibited by an anti-IL-10 antibody. In summary, B cell function in iBALT formation seems necessary for macrophage activation and tissue destruction in CS-induced emphysema and possibly provides a new target for therapeutic intervention in COPD.
Keywords: B cells; COPD; IL-10; iBALT; macrophages.
Copyright © 2014 the American Physiological Society.