Signals controlling the generation of regulatory B (Breg) cells remain ill-defined. Here we report an "auto"-regulatory feedback mechanism between plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and Breg cells. In healthy individuals, pDCs drive the differentiation of CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) (immature) B cells into IL-10-producing CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cells and plasmablasts, via the release of IFN-α and CD40 engagement. CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cells conversely restrained IFN-α production by pDCs via IL-10 release. In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), this cross-talk was compromised; pDCs promoted plasmablast differentiation but failed to induce Breg cells. This defect was recapitulated in healthy B cells upon exposure to a high concentration of IFN-α. Defective pDC-mediated expansion of CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell numbers in SLE was associated with altered STAT1 and STAT3 activation. Both altered pDC-CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell interactions and STAT1-STAT3 activation were normalized in SLE patients responding to rituximab. We propose that alteration in pDC-CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell interaction contributes to the pathogenesis of SLE.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.