Follicular dendritic cells restrict interleukin-4 availability in germinal centers and foster memory B cell generation

Immunity. 2021 Oct 12;54(10):2256-2272.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2021.08.028. Epub 2021 Sep 22.


B cells within germinal centers (GCs) enter cycles of antibody affinity maturation or exit the GC as memory cells or plasma cells. Here, we examined the contribution of interleukin (IL)-4 on B cell fate decisions in the GC. Single-cell RNA-sequencing identified a subset of light zone GC B cells expressing high IL-4 receptor-a (IL4Ra) and CD23 and lacking a Myc-associated signature. These cells could differentiate into pre-memory cells. B cell-specific deletion of IL4Ra or STAT6 favored the pre-memory cell trajectory, and provision of exogenous IL-4 in a wild-type context reduced pre-memory cell frequencies. IL-4 acted during antigen-specific interactions but also influenced bystander cells. Deletion of IL4Ra from follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) increased the availability of IL-4 in the GC, impaired the selection of affinity-matured B cells, and reduced memory cell generation. We propose that GC FDCs establish a niche that limits bystander IL-4 activity, focusing IL-4 action on B cells undergoing selection and enhancing memory cell differentiation.

Keywords: IL-4; affinity maturation; follicular dendritic cells; germinal center; memory B cells; scRNA-seq; scVDJ-seq.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells, Follicular / immunology*
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology*
  • Mice


  • Interleukin-4