Despite antigen affinity of B cells varying from cell to cell, functional analyses of antigen-reactive B cells on individual B cells are missing due to technical difficulties. Especially in the field of autoimmune diseases, promising pathogenic B cells have not been adequately studied to date because of its rarity. In this study, functions of autoantigen-reactive B cells in autoimmune disease were analyzed at the single-cell level. Since topoisomerase I is a distinct autoantigen, we targeted systemic sclerosis as autoimmune disease. Decreased and increased affinities for topoisomerase I of topoisomerase I-reactive B cells led to anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokine production associated with the inhibition and development of fibrosis, which is the major symptom of systemic sclerosis. Furthermore, inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokine production and increased affinity of topoisomerase I-reactive B cells suppressed fibrosis. These results indicate that autoantigen-reactive B cells contribute to the disease manifestations in autoimmune disease through their antigen affinity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas