Author(s): Avery DT, Bryant VL, Ma CS, de Waal Malefyt R, Tangye SG
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Abstract Naive B cells can alter the effector function of their Ig molecule by isotype switching, thereby allowing them to secrete not only IgM, but also the switched isotypes IgG, IgA, and IgE. Different isotypes are elicited in response to specific pathogens. Similarly, dysregulated production of switched isotypes underlies the development of various diseases, such as autoimmunity and immunodeficiency. Thus, it is important to characterize mediators controlling isotype switching, as well as their contribution to the overall B cell response. Isotype switching in human naive B cells can be induced by CD40L together with IL-4, IL-10, IL-13, and/or TGF-beta. Recently, IL-21 was identified as a switch factor for IgG1 and IgG3. However, the effect of IL-21 on switching to IgA, as well as the interplay between IL-21 and other switch factors, remains unknown. We found that IL-4 and IL-21 individually induced CD40L-stimulated human naive B cells to undergo switching to IgG, with IL-4 predominantly inducing IgG1(+) cells and IL-21 inducing IgG3. Culture of naive B cells with CD40L and IL-21, but not IL-4, also yielded IgA(+) cells. Combining IL-4 and IL-21 had divergent effects on isotype switching. Specifically, while IL-4 and IL-21 synergistically increased the generation of IgG1(+) cells from CD40L-stimulated B cells, IL-4 concomitantly abolished IL-21-induced switching to IgA. Our findings demonstrate the dynamic interplay between IL-4 and IL-21 in regulating the production of IgG subclasses and IgA, and suggest temporal roles for these cytokines in humoral immune responses to specific pathogens.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Vaccines & Vaccination