B lymphocytes have long been recognized for their critical contributions to adaptive immunity, providing defense against pathogens through cognate antigen presentation to T cells and Ab production. More recently appreciated is that B cells are also integral in securing self-tolerance; this has led to interest in their therapeutic application to downregulate unwanted immune responses, such as transplant rejection. In this study, we found that PMA- and ionomycin-activated mouse B cells acquire regulatory properties following stimulation through TLR4/TLR9 receptors (Bregs-TLR). Bregs-TLR efficiently inhibited T cell proliferation in vitro and prevented allograft rejection. Unlike most reported Breg activities, the inhibition of alloimmune responses by Bregs-TLR relied on the expression of TGF-β and not IL-10. In vivo, Bregs-TLR interrupted donor-specific T cell expansion and induced Tregs in a TGF-β-dependent manner. RNA-Seq analyses corroborated the involvement of TGF-β pathways in Breg-TLR function, identified potential gene pathways implicated in preventing graft rejection, and suggested targets to foster Breg regulation.
Keywords: Cellular immune response; Immunology; Immunotherapy; Tolerance; Transplantation.