Plasma B lymphocyte stimulator and B cell differentiation in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients

Academic Article


  • We hypothesized B cells are involved in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive, restrictive lung disease that is refractory to glucocorticoids and other nonspecific therapies, and almost invariably lethal. Accordingly, we sought to identify clinically associated B cell-related abnormalities in these patients. Phenotypes of circulating B cells were characterized by flow cytometry. Intrapulmonary processes were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Plasma B lymphocyte stimulating factor (BLyS) was assayed by ELISA. Circulating B cells of IPF subjects were more Ag differentiated, with greater plasmablast proportions (3.1 ± 0.8%) than in normal controls (1.3 ± 0.3%) (p < 0.03), and the extent of this differentiation correlated with IPF patient lung volumes (r = 0.44, p < 0.03). CD20 + B cell aggregates, diffuse parenchymal and perivascular immune complexes, and complement depositions were all prevalent in IPF lungs, but much less prominent or absent in normal lungs. Plasma concentrations of BLyS, an obligate factor for B cell survival and differentiation, were significantly greater (p < 0.0001) in 110 IPF (2.05 ± 0.05 ng/ml) than among 53 normal (1.40 ± 0.04 ng/ml) and 90 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease subjects (1.59 ± 0.05 ng/ml). BLyS levels were uniquely correlated among IPF patients with pulmonary artery pressures (r = 0.58, p < 0.0001). The 25% of IPF subjects with the greatest BLyS values also had diminished 1-y survival (46 ± 11%), compared with those with lesser BLyS concentrations (81 ± 5%) (hazard ratio = 4.0, 95% confidence interval = 1.8-8.7, p = 0.0002). Abnormalities of B cells and BLyS are common in IPF patients, and highly associated with disease manifestations and patient outcomes. These findings have implications regarding IPF pathogenesis and illuminate the potential for novel treatment regimens that specifically target B cells in patients with this lung disease. Copyright © 2013 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Xue J; Kass DJ; Bon J; Vuga L; Tan J; Csizmadia E; Otterbein L; Soejima M; Levesque MC; Gibson KF
  • Start Page

  • 2089
  • End Page

  • 2095
  • Volume

  • 191
  • Issue

  • 5