Busy Bs: Lymphocyte uses multiple mechanisms to shape immune response

February 26, 2009

New research expands our understanding of how a type of immune cell called a B lymphocyte enables the immune system to mount a successful defense against an intestinal parasite. The study, published by Cell Press online in the journal Immunity on 26 February, provides some intriguing insight into the variety of mechanisms implemented by B cells to protect the host from infection.

B cells are critical cells of the immune system that produce antibodies (Abs) to help rid the body of harmful pathogens. This type of immunity, called "humoral immunity", is complemented by "cellular immunity" which is mediated by T lymphocytes. Research has shown that B cells do not just produce Abs but can regulate the immune response in many other ways as well. B cells produce critical regulatory chemicals called cytokines and there is some evidence that B cells may amplify T cell dependent immune responses.

An earlier study by Dr. Frances E. Lund from the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester indicated that specific types of B cells may promote the maturation of T cells. To gain insight into the mechanisms used by B cells, Dr. Lund and colleagues performed a series of experiments to examine whether cytokine-producing B cells are required for protection against the intestinal parasite, Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Hp).

The researchers found that B cells were required for protection against Hp and that B cells mediate protection, in part, by producing Abs. In addition, B cells promoted the production and long-term maintenance of an essential type of T cell, called T helper 2 cells (Th2), which are known to be critical for protection from Hp. Importantly, the influence of B cells on the Th2 cells was independent of antibody production.

The researchers went on to show that B cell-derived cytokines interleukin-2 and tumor necrosis factor ? were required both for effective Ab and for Th2 cell responses to Hp. Therefore, in addition to Ab production, B cells also make a critical contribution to the immune response to this pathogen by regulating T cells.

"Our findings fill an important gap as they show for the first time that multiple cytokines made by B cells regulate both humoral and cellular protective immune responses to infectious organisms," says Dr. Lund. "In addition to protective effects, we also suggest that cytokine-producing B cells may play a role in damaging immune responses, such as reactions to allergens and autoantigens. Therefore, B cell subsets may represent future targets for many types of therapeutics to treat allergy, asthma and autoimmunity."

Source: Cell Press

Explore further: Researchers show stress suppresses response to cancer treatments

Related Stories

Researchers show stress suppresses response to cancer treatments

November 22, 2017
New research shows that chronic stress suppresses the immune system's response to cancer, reducing the effectiveness of immunotherapy treatments.

Diabetes: Immune system can regulate insulin

November 21, 2017
Inflammation processes are responsible for the failure of insulin production in diabetes patients. The patients' own immune systems can contribute to treatment of this disease: researchers at the University of Basel and University ...

Insulin pill may delay type 1 diabetes in some

November 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—It's often said that timing is everything. New research suggests this may be true when giving an insulin pill to try to prevent or delay type 1 diabetes.

Drug could cut transplant rejection

November 21, 2017
A diabetes drug currently undergoing development could be repurposed to help end transplant rejection, without the side-effects of current immunosuppressive drugs, according to new research by Queen Mary University of London ...

Study explores whole-body immunity

November 21, 2017
Over the next few months, millions of people will receive vaccinations in the hope of staving off the flu—and the fever, pain, and congestion that come with it.

Zika-related nerve damage caused by immune response to the virus

November 20, 2017
The immune system's response to the Zika virus, rather than the virus itself, may be responsible for nerve-related complications of infection, according to a Yale study. This insight could lead to new ways of treating patients ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find infectious prions in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient skin

November 22, 2017
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)—the human equivalent of mad cow disease—is caused by rogue, misfolded protein aggregates termed prions, which are infectious and cause fatal damages in the patient's brain. CJD patients ...

Surprising roles for muscle in tissue regeneration, study finds

November 22, 2017
A team of researchers at Whitehead has illuminated an important role for different subtypes of muscle cells in orchestrating the process of tissue regeneration. In a paper published in the November 22 issue of Nature, they ...

Study reveals new mechanisms of cell death in neurodegenerative disorders

November 22, 2017
Researchers at King's College London have discovered new mechanisms of cell death, which may be involved in debilitating neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

New simple test could help cystic fibrosis patients find best treatment

November 21, 2017
Several cutting-edge treatments have become available in recent years to correct the debilitating chronic lung congestion associated with cystic fibrosis. While the new drugs are life-changing for some patients, they do not ...

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.