CD40L is a potent activator of B cells and is able to induce proliferation and, in combination with cytokines, isotype switching and differentiation of B cells.29,67,68 The importance of this molecule for B cell responses is demonstrated by mice lacking CD40 or CD40L, which display abortive B cell responses and a failure to generate GCs and long-term memory.29,69–71 Similarly,
in humans, mutations in CD40LG or CD40 result in the primary immunodeficiency hyper-immunoglobulin M syndrome, which is characterized by recurrent bacterial infections, an inability to respond to vaccinations and a lack of serum IgG, IgA and IgE.72 Although PD-1 is highly expressed on Tfh cells, little is LDK378 supplier known about the role of PD-1 in Tfh cell development or function. The ligands for PD-1, namely PD-L1 and PD-L2, are expressed on multiple cells including B cells. Studies in mice deficient in PD-1 or its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2 suggest that these may regulate GC cells and long-lived plasma cells either positively73,74 or negatively.75 It is likely, however, that this is not a direct effect HIF inhibitor of signalling to the B cell but, rather, reflects a role of B cell expressed PD-L1 and/or PD-L2 in regulating the number and function of the Tfh cells via PD-1, as
all three papers reported increased numbers of Tfh cells when PD-1/PD-L1 interactions were ablated.73–75 Another important mechanism by which Tfh cells regulate B cell responses is through the secretion of cytokines. Tfh cells are characterized by expression of IL-21, a cytokine capable of modulating B cell differentiation and proliferation.76–78 Addition of IL-21 to CD40L-stimulated human B cells is able to induce switching to IgG Megestrol Acetate and IgE and the formation of antibody-secreting cells.76,77 In addition, it has been demonstrated that ablation of IL-21:IL-21R signalling in vivo in mice can affect
multiple aspects of the B cell response, including formation of GCs, antibody production and the generation and/or function of memory B cells.59,60,62,78–80 The nature and severity of these effects varied widely, however, depending on the immunization or infectious challenge used. This suggests that, as for the generation of Tfh cells, there may be other signals that can compensate for IL-21 under certain circumstances. None the less, it is clear that IL-21 produced by Tfh cells is able to modulate B cell responses. While IL-21 is the cytokine associated primarily with Tfh cells, there have been increasing reports of Tfh cells producing other cytokines, including IL-4,8,20,25,36,81,82 IL-10,1,8 IL-1725,40,83,84 and IFN-γ.16,20,25,40,81 This is consistent with the ability of these cytokines to modulate B cell behaviour such as isotype switching and antibody production.85–89 This raises questions, however, about the status of Tfh cells as a distinct lineage.