Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways, involving antigen-presenting cells, T lymphocytes, mast cells and eosinophils. B lymphocytes have traditionally been viewed as target cells for Th2 cytokines;however, emerging evidence suggests that regulatory types of B cells (Breg) can be induced under inflammatory conditions and that these Breg cells can suppress inflammation and/or enhance tolerance. Sensitized mice demonstrate a biphasic response to antigen, with acute exposure eliciting allergic airway disease but chronic exposure resulting in local inhalational tolerance (LIT), with resolution of airway and lung inflammation but persistence of systemic allergic sensitization. A consistent feature of LIT is the persistence of lymphocytes in bronchoalveolar lavage, lung tissue, and hilar lymph nodes (HLN). Some of these lymphocytes are regulatory T cells (Treg), but others are B cells. Based on our preliminary data, we hypothesize that a novel regulatory B-cell phenotype differentiates during the development of LIT in regional tissues, and that this cell regulates local immunologic responses. We propose to identify the B cell subset(s) and their mechanisms that contribute to the development of LIT with the following Specific Aims: 1) Assess phenotypic and functional characteristics of suppressive HLN LIT B cell subset(s);2) Determine the mechanism(s) underlying LIT HLN B-cell-mediated induction of Treg cells;and 3) Determine if this inhibitory Breg represents recruitment of a pre-existing cell type into the HLNs or conversion from a pre-existing B cell subset. Insights gained from our proposed studies may elucidate important mechanisms underlying LIT and, ultimately, may help us learn how to similarly turn off airway inflammation in human asthmatics. Moreover, results of the above studies will yield new fundamental immunologic insights regarding B-cell regulation of T-cell function, which may have ramifications that extend well beyond asthma.

Public Health Relevance

Allergic mice are able to turn off their asthma. They appear to make a specific type of B lymphocyte that is capable of creating regulatory T lymphocytes, which inhibit airway inflammation. Better understanding of this process in mice may help us to learn how to similarly turn off airway inflammation in human asthmatics.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Hypersensitivity, Autoimmune, and Immune-mediated Diseases Study Section (HAI)
Program Officer
Minnicozzi, Michael
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Connecticut
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Natarajan, Prabitha; Guernsey, Linda A; Schramm, Craig M (2014) Regulatory B cells in allergic airways disease and asthma. Methods Mol Biol 1190:207-25
Natarajan, P; Singh, A; McNamara, J T et al. (2012) Regulatory B cells from hilar lymph nodes of tolerant mice in a murine model of allergic airway disease are CD5+, express TGF-?, and co-localize with CD4+Foxp3+ T cells. Mucosal Immunol 5:691-701
Secor Jr, Eric R; Shah, Sonali J; Guernsey, Linda A et al. (2012) Bromelain limits airway inflammation in an ovalbumin-induced murine model of established asthma. Altern Ther Health Med 18:9-17
McNamara, Jeffrey T; Schramm, Craig M; Singh, Anurag et al. (2012) Phenotypic changes to the endogenous antigen-specific CD8+ T cell response correlates with the development and resolution of allergic airway disease. Am J Pathol 180:1991-2000