Open Access Open Badges Research article

B cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients show important alterations in the expression of CD86 and FcγRIIb, which are modulated by anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy

Diego Catalán1, Octavio Aravena1, Francisca Sabugo2, Pamela Wurmann2, Lilian Soto2, Alexis M Kalergis3, Miguel Cuchacovich2, Juan C Aguillón1* and Millenium Nucleus on Immunology and Immunotherapy P-07-088-F

Author Affiliations

1 Programa Disciplinario de Inmunología, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas (ICBM), Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Avenida Independencia 1027, Santiago, Chile

2 Sección de Reumatología, Departamento de Medicina, Hospital Clínico, Universidad de Chile, Santos Dumont 999, Santiago, Chile

3 Departamento de Genética Molecular y Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Bernardo O'Higgins 340, Santiago, Chile

For all author emails, please log on.

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R68  doi:10.1186/ar2985

See related editorial by Mauri and Jury,

Published: 15 April 2010



Several molecules help preserve peripheral B cell tolerance, but when altered, they may predispose to autoimmunity. This work studied the expression of the costimulatory molecule CD86 and the inhibitory receptor for IgG immune complexes FcγRIIb (CD32b), on B cells from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, and the influence of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy.


Peripheral B cells from 18 RA patients and 13 healthy donors were characterized using flow cytometry. Eleven patients who underwent a six-month adalimumab therapy were further assessed for phenotypic changes on their B cells.


RA patients exhibited a high percentage of naïve and memory B cells expressing CD86. In contrast, expression of FcγRIIb was significantly reduced on RA memory B cells and plasmablasts as compared to healthy donors, probably due to downregulation of this receptor when differentiating from naïve to memory cells. These alterations on FcγRIIb were associated with high levels of anti-citrullinated vimentin autoantibodies. In addition, treatment with adalimumab normalized the expression of CD86 on memory B cells and reduced the expression of FcγRIIb, mainly on naïve B cells.


Our findings show that peripheral B cells from RA patients have an altered expression of key molecules, such as CD86 and FcγRIIb. Because this latter receptor is required for feedback inhibition, a deficient expression might contribute to humoral autoimmune responses. Furthermore, these molecules are likely to be influenced by inflammatory factors, since they were modulated by TNF inhibition.