Toll-like receptors regulate B cell cytokine production in patients with diabetes

M. Jagannathan, M. McDonnell, Y. Liang, H. Hasturk, J. Hetzel, D. Rubin, A. Kantarci, T. E. Van Dyke, L. M. Ganley-Leal, B. S. Nikolajczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Aims/hypothesis Understanding cellular and molecular events in diabetes mellitus will identify new approaches for therapy. Immune system cells are important modulators of chronic inflammation in diabetes mellitus, but the role of B cells is not adequately studied. The aim of this work was to define the function of B cells in diabetes mellitus patients through focus on B cell responses to pattern recognition receptors. Methods We measured expression and function of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) on peripheral blood B cells from diabetes mellitus patients by flow cytometry and multiplexed cytokine analysis. We similarly analysed B cells from non-diabetic donors and periodontal disease patients as comparative cohorts. Results B cells from diabetes mellitus patients secrete multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines, and IL-8 production is significantly elevated in B cells from diabetic patients compared with those from non-diabetic individuals. These data, plus modest elevation of TLR surface expression, suggest B cell IL-8 hyperproduction is a cytokine-specific outcome of altered TLR function in B cells from diabetes mellitus patients. Altered TLR function is further evidenced by demonstration of an unexpected, albeit modest 'anti-inflammatory' function for TLR4. Importantly, B cells from diabetes mellitus patients fail to secrete IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine implicated in inflammatory disease resolution, under a variety of TLR-stimulating conditions. Comparative analyses of B cells from patients with a second chronic inflammatory disease, periodontal disease, indicated that some alterations in B cell TLR function associate specifically with diabetes mellitus. Conclusions/interpretation Altered TLR function in B cells from diabetes mellitus patients increases inflammation by two mechanisms: elevation of pro-inflammatory IL-8 and lack of anti-inflammatory/protective IL-10 production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1471
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank A. Marshak-Rothstein, R. Corley, M. Clare-Salzler and W. Harnett for manuscript critiques. C. Apovian and A. Bourland generously provided samples for intracellular cytokine analyses. We thank M. Rarick and P. Skolnik from the Center for HIV/AIDS at Boston University Medical Center for use and technical expertise with the multiplex analyser, and G. Denis at the flow core facility at Boston University School of Medicine for expertise in intracellular staining. This work was supported by R01 AI54611 and a Research Grant from the American Diabetes Association (B. S. Nikolajczyk), the Evans Medical Foundation and The Broad Medical Foundation (L. M. Ganley-Leal), DE018917 (H. Hasturk) and DE15566 (T. E. Van Dyke, A. Kantarci and H. Hasturk).


  • B lymphocytes
  • Cytokines
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Human
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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