B1a B Lymphocytes Are Atheroprotective by Secreting Natural IgM That Increases IgM Deposits and Reduces Necrotic Cores in Atherosclerotic Lesions
Rationale: Aggravated atherosclerosis in B lymphocyte-deficient chimeric mice and reduced atherosclerosis after transfer of unfractionated spleen B lymphocytes into splenectomized mice have led to the widely held notion that B lymphocytes are atheroprotective. However, B lymphocytes can be pathogenic, because their depletion by anti-CD20 antibody ameliorated atherosclerosis, and transfer of B2 lymphocytes aggravated atherosclerosis. These observations raise the question of the identity of the atheroprotective B-lymphocyte population.
Objective: The purpose of the study was to identify an atheroprotective B-lymphocyte subset and mechanisms by which they confer atheroprotection.
Methods and Results: Splenectomy of apolipoprotein E–deficient mice selectively reduced peritoneal B1a lymphocytes, plasma IgM, and oxidized low-density lipoprotein IgM levels and lesion IgM deposits. These reductions were accompanied by increased oil red O–stained atherosclerotic lesions and increased necrotic cores, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, and apoptotic cells in lesions. Plasma lipids, body weight, collagen, and smooth muscle content were unaffected. Transfer of B1a lymphocytes into splenectomized mice increased peritoneal B1a lymphocytes; restored plasma IgM, oxidized low-density lipoprotein IgM levels, and lesion IgM deposits; and potently attenuated atherosclerotic lesions, with reduced lesion necrotic cores, oxidized low-density lipoprotein, and apoptotic cells. In contrast, transfer of B1a lymphocytes that cannot secrete IgM failed to protect against atherosclerosis development in splenectomized mice despite reconstitution in the peritoneum.
Conclusions: B1a lymphocytes are an atheroprotective B-lymphocyte population. Our data suggest that natural IgM secreted by these lymphocytes offers protection by depositing IgM in atherosclerotic lesions, which reduces the necrotic cores of lesions.
- Received November 18, 2010.
- Revision received August 8, 2011.
- Accepted August 12, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.