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RATIONALE: In addition to their well-known function as antibody-producing cells, B lymphocytes can markedly influence the course of infectious or noninfectious diseases via antibody-independent mechanisms. In tuberculosis (TB), B cells accumulate in lungs, yet their functional contribution to the host response remains poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: To document the role of B cells in TB in an unbiased manner. METHODS: We generated the transcriptome of B cells isolated from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb)-infected mice and validated the identified key pathways using in vitro and in vivo assays. The obtained data were substantiated using B cells from pleural effusion of patients with TB. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: B cells isolated from Mtb-infected mice displayed a STAT1 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 1)-centered signature, suggesting a role for IFNs in B-cell response to infection. B cells stimulated in vitro with Mtb produced type I IFN, via a mechanism involving the innate sensor STING (stimulator of interferon genes), and antagonized by MyD88 (myeloid differentiation primary response 88) signaling. In vivo, B cells expressed type I IFN in the lungs of Mtb-infected mice and, of clinical relevance, in pleural fluid from patients with TB. Type I IFN expression by B cells induced an altered polarization of macrophages toward a regulatory/antiinflammatory profile in vitro. In vivo, increased provision of type I IFN by B cells in a murine model of B cell-restricted Myd88 deficiency correlated with an enhanced accumulation of regulatory/antiinflammatory macrophages in Mtb-infected lungs. CONCLUSIONS: Type I IFN produced by Mtb-stimulated B cells favors macrophage polarization toward a regulatory/antiinflammatory phenotype during Mtb infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Respir Crit Care Med

Publication Date





801 - 813


B lymphocytes, IFN, macrophages, tuberculosis