Background: PBC is a prototypical autoimmune liver disease characterized by portal lymphoplasmacyte infiltration. ALD is a prototypical environment-driven disease, featured by mild lymphocyte infiltration. We hypothesize that B cells are more involved in the pathogenesis of PBC. By analysing the infiltrating B cell repertoire, we aimed to unveil greater oligoclonal expansion and active clonal exchange between liver and periphery in PBC than in ALD patients.
Methods: Using NGS of Ig H chain genes, we analysed the liver-infiltrating and paired peripheral B lymphocyte repertoire from nine PBC and four ALD patients.
Results: In the liver of PBC and ALD patients, (i) roughly 10% of the B lymphocytes were clonally related and highly expressed, and there were also lineages that underwent extensive clonal expansion; (ii) there was different use of IGHV/IGHJ segments between PBC and ALD, suggesting distinct Ag exposure backgrounds, but this did not lead to a significant difference in their clonal expansion level. Analysis of data sets from paired samples further revealed, (iii) direct clonal exchange and evolutionally related B cell clones between the infiltrating and peripheral repertoire; (iv) the seeding of the infiltrating clones to periphery, and peripheral ones to the liver, for further extensive evolution.
Conclusions: The oligoclonally expanded nature of the infiltrating B cell repertoire implies B cell immunity is involved in the pathogenesis of both diseases. The observed clonal exchange might provide an approach to identify and monitor the infiltrating B cells through the periphery.
Keywords: Ig repertoire; Primary biliary cholangitis; clonal exchange; oligoclonal expansion.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.