Opposing roles of B lymphocyte subsets in atherosclerosis

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Atherosclerosis is initiated by cholesterol entry into arteries that triggers chronic immune-inflammatory lesions in the vessels. Early lesions are clinically insignificant but advanced complex lesions and vulnerable rupture prone lesions impact on quality of life and can be life threatening. Rupture of vulnerable atherosclerotic lesions initiates thrombotic occlusion of vital arteries precipitating heart attacks and strokes that remain major killers globally despite therapeutic use of statins to lower blood cholesterol levels. Conventional B2 cells are proatherogenic whereas peritoneal Bla cells are atheroprotective. Depletion of B2 cells by administration of mAb to CD20 or to BAFF receptor or in BAFF receptor-deficient mice ameliorates atherosclerosis. B2 cells may promote atherosclerosis by production of IgG, secretion of proinflammatory cytokine TNFα and activation of CD4 T cells. Together these B2 cell mechanisms contribute to generation of rupture-prone vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques characterised by large necrotic cores. In contrast, peritoneal Bla cells protect against atherosclerosis by secretion of natural IgM that scavenges apoptotic cells and oxidised LDL and reduces necrotic cores in atherosclerotic lesions. These atheroprotective effects can be further increased by stimulating Bla cells by administration of apoptotic cells, liposomes of phosphatidylserine abundant on surfaces of apoptotic cell, by mAb to TIM1, a phosphatidylserine receptor expressed by B1a cells and by TLR4-MyD88 activation. Experimental studies of atherosclerosis in mouse models indicate that reductions in atherogenic B2 cells and/or activation of atheroprotective B1a cells protects against atherosclerosis development, findings which have potential for clinical translation to reduce risks of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-56
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • antibodies
  • antigen presentation
  • atherosclerosis
  • B cell
  • cytokines

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