Regulatory B cells producing IL-10 are increased in human tumor draining lymph nodes

Int J Cancer. 2023 Aug 15;153(4):854-866. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34555. Epub 2023 May 5.


The contribution of different immune cell subsets, especially T cells, in anti-tumor immune response is well established. In contrast to T cells, the anti-tumor contribution of B cells has been scarcely investigated. B-cells are often overlooked, even though they are important players in a fully integrated immune response and constitute a substantial fraction of tumor draining lymph nodes (TDLNs) known also as Sentinel Nodes. In this project, samples including TDLNs, non-TDLNs (nTDLNs) and metastatic lymph nodes from 21 patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma were analyzed by flow cytometry. TDLNs were characterized by a significantly higher proportion of B cells compared with nTDLNs (P = .0127). TDLNs-associated B cells contained high percentages of naïve B cells, in contrary to nTDLNs which contained significantly higher percentages of memory B cells. Patients having metastases in TDLNs showed a significantly higher presence of immunosuppressive B regulatory cells compared with metastasis-free patients (P = .0008). Elevated levels of regulatory B cells in TDLNs were associated with the advancement of the disease. B cells in TDLNs were characterized by significantly higher expression of an immunosuppressive cytokine-IL-10 compared with nTDLNs (P = .0077). Our data indicate that B cells in human TDLNs differ from B cells in nTDLNs and exhibit more naïve and immunosuppressive phenotypes. We identified a high accumulation of regulatory B cells within TDLNs which may be a potential obstacle in achieving response to novel cancer immunotherapies (ICIs) in head and neck cancer.

Keywords: B regulatory cells; oral cancer; tumor-draining lymph nodes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes, Regulatory*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Interleukin-10