B lymphocytes as autoantigen-presenting cells in the amplification of autoimmunity

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1997 Apr 5;815:88-104. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1997.tb52047.x.


The exact role of B cells in antigen presentation to naive T cells in vivo is presently not known. Here, we demonstrate the ability of a B cell subset consisting of B7-2pos-B cells to prime autoreactive T cells in B cell-deficient mice. In contrast, B cell-deficient mice are unable to mount a similar initiation and expansion of the autoimmune response. The expression of the B7-2 costimulatory molecule as well as the specificity to a self-antigen, either murine cytochrome c or murine ribonucleoproteins (the target of autoimmunity in SLE), enabled B cells as antigen-presenting cells to induce naive lymph node T cells to proliferate and to express IFN-gamma, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10 cytokine mRNAs. In contrast, neither adoptively transferred B7-2neg-B cells nor nonspecific B7-2pos-B cells were able to activate naive T cells. In addition, anti-B7-2 treatment prevented the in vivo expression of the IL-4, IL-5, and IFN-gamma cytokine mRNA responses. Our results suggest a major role of autoantigen-specific B7-2pos-B cells in breaking T cell tolerance to self-antigen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • B7-2 Antigen
  • Cytochrome c Group / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Rats
  • Ribonucleoprotein, U1 Small Nuclear / immunology*
  • Self Tolerance / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antigens, CD
  • B7-2 Antigen
  • Cd86 protein, mouse
  • Cd86 protein, rat
  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Ribonucleoprotein, U1 Small Nuclear