Allergy Asthma Immunol Res.  2011 Jul;3(3):168-177. 10.4168/aair.2011.3.3.168.

Regulatory B Cells and Allergic Diseases

  • 1Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Paediatrics, Chungnam National University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 2Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea.


B cells are generally considered to positively regulate immune responses by producing antigen-specific antibodies. B cells are classified into classical CD5- conventional B cells and CD5+ B1 cells. The latter produce multi-specific autoantibodies and are thought to be involved in autoimmune diseases. However, evidence supporting a B cell negative regulatory function has accumulated over the past 30 years. Multiple reports have suggested that absence, or loss, of regulatory B cells exacerbates symptoms of both allergic (including contact hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis) and autoimmune (such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, chronic colitis, and collagen-induced arthritis) diseases, and in lupus-like models of autoimmunity. Regulatory B cells are characterized by production of the negative regulatory cytokines, IL-10 and TGF-beta. IL-10-producing B cells were the first regulatory B cells to be recognized and were termed 'B10' cells. IL-10-producing regulatory B cells are of the CD19(+)CD5(+)IgM(hi)IgD(lo)CD1d(hi) type. Recently, a TGF-beta-producing regulatory B cell subset, Br3, has been shown to be related to immune tolerance in food allergies. Moreover, forkhead box P3 (Foxp3)-expressing B cells have also been identified in humans and may act as regulatory B cells (Bregs). The functional image of regulatory B cells is similar to that of regulatory T cells. Because of the proliferative and apoptotic responses of Br1 and Br3 cells in immune tolerance in non-IgE-mediated food allergy, reciprocal roles and counter-regulatory mechanisms of Br1 and Br3 responses are also suspected. Additionally, different roles for regulatory B and T cells at different time points during initiation and progression of autoimmune disease are described.


Regulatory B cell; allergy; IL-10; TGF-beta; CD5+ B; atopic dermatitis; asthma; food allergy; tolerance; counter-regulation
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