Regulatory B cells in cancer

Immunol Rev. 2021 Jan;299(1):74-92. doi: 10.1111/imr.12939. Epub 2020 Dec 23.


Tumorigenesis proceeds through discrete steps where acquisition of genetic lesions and changes in the surrounding microenvironment combine to drive unrestricted neoplastic proliferation and metastasis. The ability of tumor-infiltrating immune cells to promote tumor growth via the provision of signals that enable tumor cell survival and proliferation as well as contribute to immune suppression is an active area of research. Recent efforts have provided us with mechanistic insights into how B cells can positively and negatively regulate immune responses. Negative regulation of immune responses in cancer can be mediated by regulatory B cells and is often a result of increased production of cytokines that can directly and indirectly affect anti-tumor immune function and cancer cell growth. Signals that lead to the expansion of regulatory B cells and the spectrum of their functional roles are not well understood and are the subject of active research by many groups. Here, we elaborate broadly on the history of regulatory B cells in cancer and summarize recent studies that have established genetic models for the study of regulatory B cell function and their potential for therapeutic intervention in the setting of solid cancers.

Keywords: IL-35; cancer; regulatory B cells; tumor immunology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory*
  • Cytokines
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Neoplasms*
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Cytokines