Redox remodeling allows and controls B-cell activation and differentiation

Roberta Vené, Laura Delfino, Patrizia Castellani, Enrica Balza, Milena Bertolotti, Roberto Sitia, Anna Rubartelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During their differentiation to antibody-secreting plasma cells, B lymphocytes undergo dramatic changes in metabolism, structure, and function. Here we show that this transition entails extensive intra-and extracellular redox changes. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-driven activation and differentiation of naïve murine B splenocytes is paralleled by increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from different sources, followed by a strong antioxidant response. This response includes upregulation of thioredoxin and of the cystine transporter xCT, and increased production and extracellular release of nonprotein thiols, mainly glutathione (GSH) and cysteine. Although ROS levels are higher in late-differentiating B cells, an early oxidative step is likely required to start the differentiation program, because inhibition of NADPH oxidase-dependent early ROS production impairs B-cell activation and differentiation. Addition of reducing agents such as 2-ME results in increased IgM secretion per cell, suggesting that the antioxidant response not only is aimed at restoring the redox homeostasis but also plays a functional role. A highly reduced environment coincident with the presence of large ROS-producing cells is observed in histologic sections of spleens from immunized mice, indicating that the redox modifications observed in LPS-induced B-cell differentiation in vitro occur also in vivo during physiologic immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1155
Number of pages11
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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