Purpose of review
B cells are known to play a central role in humoral immunity and to boost cellular immunity, however, in a variety of experimental models, B-cell subsets ameliorate inflammation and autoimmune disease, indicating that they can also play a regulatory role. Here, we highlight the advances in regulatory B-cell (Breg) biology of the past year with an emphasis on findings pertinent to transplantation. Several recent observations highlight the relevance to clinical transplantation. Data from at least three independent groups demonstrated that spontaneously tolerant renal transplant recipients exhibit a peripheral blood B-cell signature although the significance of these data remains unclear. Moreover, new data suggest that regulatory B cells may serve as a biomarker for long-term allograft outcomes. Finally, recent evidence suggesting that plasma cells may be an essential component of Bregs raises new concerns about targeting antibody producing cells.
We describe new information on Breg mechanisms of action to suppress the alloresponse, signals to expand Bregs in vitro, and more functional evidence of Breg involvement in operationally tolerant kidney patients and in maintaining stable allograft function.
Although lymphocyte depletion remains central to tolerance induction therapy, the sparing or expansion of regulatory B cells may be an additional strategy to preempt graft rejection.