The skin is a critical barrier organ and the frequent target of immune-mediated pathologies, such as psoriasis. Despite a newly identified key role of B cells in pro-and anti-inflammatory cutaneous responses, little is known about skin-associated B cells. We newly discovered that IL-10+ regulatory B cells (Bregs) with known potential to suppress T cell-driven skin inflammation preferentially migrate into the inflamed skin of mice. We also identified IL-10+ Bregs in human skin, validating human relevance of our findings in mice. Our studies show that Breg trafficking into skin is independent of canonical skin-homing receptors and instead requires ?4?1- integrin, which was constitutively expressed in an activated state on Bregs. The data suggest that Bregs are efficient skin-targeting cells and point to a so far unexplored anti-inflammatory pathway that may translate into novel therapeutic approaches for inflammatory skin diseases. We hypothesize that skin Bregs fill a specialized niche in the regulation of skin inflammation and that they can be targeted through their migration. We also propose that impaired Breg recruitment into skin exacerbates skin inflammation. Human psoriasis is associated with a dearth of cutaneous IL-10 and clinically responsive to IL-10 therapy. B cell depletion induces psoriasis in some individuals, supporting a protective role of B cells in this disease. Therefore, psoriasiform inflammation is likely affected by reduced recruitment of IL-10+ Bregs into skin and a main focus of our studies.
Under Aim 1 we will reveal the conditions that drive Breg accumulation in skin and define the IL-10-dependent and -independent regulatory properties of skin Bregs during inflammation.
Under Aim 2 we will both determine the trafficking receptor signatures of human skin B cell subsets, including Bregs, as well as use a model of afferent lymph cannulation in sheep to reveal the relative skin tropism of skin B cell subsets. The results will allow us to manipulate the localization of anti-inflammatory B cells therapeutically and to recognize dysregulation of their migration. Finally, under Aim 3, we will block IL-10+ Breg migration into skin in a model of psoriasiform inflammation, thereby elucidating whether Breg trafficking into skin is essential to limiting inflammation. We will also evaluate human skin affected by psoriasis for a potential lack of recruited Bregs. This will determine whether skin recruitment and localization of Bregs are essential for the suppression of psoriasiform inflammation. In conclusion, this proposal will reveal the migratory routes, employed trafficking receptors, and anti-inflammatory functions of newly identified cutaneous IL-10+ B cells. Given the wide association of B cells with a large number of skin pathologies, ranging from inflammation, infection and skin cancers and the dearth of knowledge about skin B cells, our work will close a significant knowledge gap with great potential to exploit the gained knowledge for therapeutic purposes

Public Health Relevance

We found a new subset of skin immune cells that has anti-inflammatory properties. In this proposal, we will analyze the anti-inflammatory role of these cells during skin inflammation and determine the molecules that drive their migration. This knowledge can then be used to develop new therapies for skin inflammation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Arthritis, Connective Tissue and Skin Study Section (ACTS)
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Ferguson, Stacy E
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Thomas Jefferson University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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