Two opposing roles for B cells in cancer immunology

Most cancer immunotherapies in development depend on the activity of T cells. However, the role of B cells in cancer immunology is not well understood. Two papers published in Nature reveal two opposing roles for B cells.

B cells in cancer immunologySource: Nature, doi:10.1038/nature14388.

The paper from Stanford University show that B cells secrete IgG antibodies, triggering a cellular immune response[1]. IgG antibody’ variable region recognizes tumour antigens, while its constant region interacts with the Fcγ receptor of dendritic cells (DCs). The DCs then extract tumour antigens and present them to T cells.

The paper from University of California San Diego show a different role for B cells[2]. In prostate cancer, B cells express IgA, IL-10, and PD-L1 that suppress anticancer immune responses. Deleting B cells improves T-cell-based eradication of oxaliplatin-treated tumours.

It is not surprising that B cells play two opposing roles in cancer immunology. The immunosuppressive function of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and regulatory B cells (Bregs) has been noticed for decades. Several IDO inhibitors (indoximod, NLG919, INCB024360, etc.) are being developed to suppress Tregs. New drugs removing B-cell-mediated immunosuppression may come out in future.

[1] Nature. 2015, doi: 10.1038/nature14424.
[2] Nature. 2015, doi: 10.1038/nature14395.


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