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Introduction: Interleukin (IL)-10-producing B cells (Bregs) regulate immune responses in autoimmune disease; however their role in allergy is unclear. Allergen exposure in predisposed atopic individuals results in the induction of IgE-secreting B cells, crucial in the immunopathophysiology of allergic rhinitis. Allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) is the only disease-modifying treatment for allergic rhinitis. AIT results in long-term clinical and immunological tolerance; however, whether Bregs contribute towards AIT-induced tolerance remains unclear. Hypotheses: 1. In vitro induced IL-10-producing B cells regulate allergen-driven Th2 inflammation, 2. Bregs are present in fewer numbers in seasonal grass pollen allergic (SAR) individuals compared with healthy controls, which is restored during AIT. Methods: B cells were isolated and subjected to flow cytometry to detect surface markers and IL-10 capacity following CpG stimulation. FluoroSpot, ELISA or qPCR were used to confirm IL-10. Suppression of T cell proliferation (by CFSE) and cytokine production (by ELISA) were carried out in co-cultures. Regulatory B cells in SAR (n=14), AIT (n=18) and healthy (n=14) donors were compared. Nasal allergen challenge (NAC) was carried out, with blood taken pre and post challenge for flow cytometry. Results: CpG significantly enhanced proportions of Bregs, with enrichment particularly within CD24hiCD27+, CD5hi, PD-L1+ and CD24hiCD38hi populations. Bregs suppressed both polyclonally- and grass pollen allergen-stimulated T cells. Ex vivo, proportions of IL-10+ B cells from SAR and healthy donors matched, but were significantly greater amongst AIT donors (particularly sublingual immunotherapy - SLIT) compared to SAR. Following NAC, proportions of B cells within CD24hiCD38hi, CD5hi, CD24hiCD27hi and CD25+ subsets were significantly increased amongst non-allergic and AIT groups, but not amongst SAR donors. Conclusion: Bregs are capable of suppressing allergen induced, Th2-driven inflammation in vitro and may be involved in the induction of tolerance during allergen immunotherapy in vivo, particularly following SLIT.

Original publication




Internet publication


Imperial College London

Publication Date



PhD Thesis, Allergen Immunotherapy, Regulatory B cells, Breg