The functional response of B cells to antigenic stimulation : a preliminary report of latent tuberculosis

Du Plessis, Willem J. ; Kleynhans, Leanie ; Du Plessis, Nelita ; Stanley, Kim ; Malherbe, Stephanus T. ; Maasdorp, Elizna ; Ronacher, Katharina ; Chegou, Novel N. ; Walzl, Gerhard ; Loxton, Andre G. (2016-04)

CITATION: Du Plessis, W. J., et al. 2016. The functional response of B cells to antigenic stimulation : a preliminary report of latent tuberculosis. PLoS ONE, 11(4): 1-16, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.015271.

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.

The original publication is available at


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) remains a successful pathogen, causing tuberculosis disease numbers to constantly increase. Although great progress has been made in delineating the disease, the host-pathogen interaction is incompletely described. B cells have shown to function as both effectors and regulators of immunity via non-humoral methods in both innate and adaptive immune settings. Here we assessed specific B cell functional interaction following stimulation with a broad range of antigens within the LTBI milieu. Our results indicate that B cells readily produce pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (including IL-1β, IL-10, IL-17, IL-21 and TNF-α) in response to stimulation. TLR4 and TLR9 based stimulations achieved the greatest secreted cytokine-production response and BCG stimulation displayed a clear preference for inducing IL-1β production. We also show that the cytokines produced by B cells are implicated strongly in cell-mediated communication and that plasma (memory) B cells (CD19+CD27+CD138+) is the subset with the greatest contribution to cytokine production. Collectively our data provides insight into B cell responses, where they are implicated in and quantifies responses from specific B cell phenotypes. These findings warrant further functional B cell research with a focus on specific B cell phenotypes under conditions of active TB disease to further our knowledge about the contribution of various cell subsets which could have implications for future vaccine development or refined B cell orientated treatment in the health setting.

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