Immunosuppressive Mechanisms of Regulatory B Cells

Front Immunol. 2021 Apr 29:12:611795. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.611795. eCollection 2021.


Regulatory B cells (Bregs) is a term that encompasses all B cells that act to suppress immune responses. Bregs contribute to the maintenance of tolerance, limiting ongoing immune responses and reestablishing immune homeostasis. The important role of Bregs in restraining the pathology associated with exacerbated inflammatory responses in autoimmunity and graft rejection has been consistently demonstrated, while more recent studies have suggested a role for this population in other immune-related conditions, such as infections, allergy, cancer, and chronic metabolic diseases. Initial studies identified IL-10 as the hallmark of Breg function; nevertheless, the past decade has seen the discovery of other molecules utilized by human and murine B cells to regulate immune responses. This new arsenal includes other anti-inflammatory cytokines such IL-35 and TGF-β, as well as cell surface proteins like CD1d and PD-L1. In this review, we examine the main suppressive mechanisms employed by these novel Breg populations. We also discuss recent evidence that helps to unravel previously unknown aspects of the phenotype, development, activation, and function of IL-10-producing Bregs, incorporating an overview on those questions that remain obscure.

Keywords: CD1d; IL-10; IL-35; PD-L1; TGF-β; TIM-1; granzyme B; regulatory B cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines