B cell-derived IL-10 does not regulate spontaneous systemic autoimmunity in MRL.Fas(lpr) mice.


B cells contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic autoimmune disorders, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), via multiple effector functions. However, B cells are also implicated in regulating SLE and other autoimmune syndromes via release of IL-10. B cells secreting IL-10 were termed “Bregs” and were proposed as a separate subset of cells, a concept that remains controversial. The balance between pro- and anti- inflammatory effects could determine the success of B cell-targeted therapies for autoimmune disorders; therefore, it is pivotal to understand the significance of B cell-secreted IL-10 in spontaneous autoimmunity. By lineage-specific deletion of Il10 from B cells, we demonstrated that B cell-derived IL-10 is ineffective in suppressing the spontaneous activation of self-reactive B and T cells during lupus. Correspondingly, severity of organ disease and survival rates in mice harboring Il10-deficient B cells are unaltered. Genetic marking of cells that transcribe Il10 illustrated that the pool of IL-10-competent cells is dominated by CD4 T cells and macrophages. IL-10-competent cells of the B lineage are rare in vivo and, among them, short-lived plasmablasts have the highest frequency, suggesting an activation-driven, rather than lineage-driven, phenotype. Putative Breg phenotypic subsets, such as CD1d(hi)CD5(+) and CD21(hi)CD23(hi) B cells, are not enriched in Il10 transcription. These genetic studies demonstrated that, in a spontaneous model of murine lupus, IL-10-dependent B cell regulation does not restrain disease and, thus, the pathogenic effects of B cells are not detectably counterbalanced by their IL-10-dependent regulatory functions.

J Immunol