The coinhibitory receptor CTLA-4 controls B cell responses by modulating T follicular helper, T follicular regulatory, and T regulatory cells.

Date Published:

2014 Dec 18


The receptor CTLA-4 has been implicated in controlling B cell responses, but the mechanisms by which CTLA-4 regulates antibody production are not known. Here we showed deletion of CTLA-4 in adult mice increased Tfh and Tfr cell numbers and augmented B cell responses. In the effector phase, loss of CTLA-4 on Tfh cells resulted in heightened B cell responses, whereas loss of CTLA-4 on Tfr cells resulted in defective suppression of antigen-specific antibody responses. We also found that non-Tfr Treg cells could suppress B cell responses through CTLA-4 and that Treg and/or Tfr cells might downregulate B7-2 on B cells outside germinal centers as a means of suppression. Within the germinal center, however, Tfr cells potently suppress B cells through CTLA-4, but with a mechanism independent of altering B7-1 or B7-2. Thus, we identify multifaceted regulatory roles for CTLA-4 in Tfh, Tfr, and Treg cells, which together control humoral immunity.