Background: Aging is associated with increased intrinsic B cell inflammation, decreased protective antibody responses and increased autoimmune antibody responses. The effects of aging on the metabolic phenotype of B cells and on the metabolic programs that lead to the secretion of protective versus autoimmune antibodies are not known. Methods: Splenic B cells and the major splenic B cell subsets, Follicular (FO) and Age-associated B cells (ABCs), were isolated from the spleens of young and old mice and left unstimulated. The RNA was collected to measure the expression of markers associated with intrinsic inflammation and autoimmune antibody production by qPCR. B cells and B cell subsets were also stimulated with CpG and supernatants collected after 7 days to measure autoimmune IgG secretion by ELISA. Metabolic measures (oxygen consumption rate, extracellular acidification rate and glucose uptake) were performed using a Seahorse XFp extracellular flux analyzer. Results: Results have identified the subset of ABCs, whose frequencies and numbers increase with age and represent the most pro-inflammatory B cell subset, as the cell type mainly if not exclusively responsible for the expression of inflammatory markers and for the secretion of autoimmune antibodies in the spleen of old mice. Hyper-inflammatory ABCs from old mice are also hyper-metabolic, as compared to those from young mice and to the subset of FO B cells, a feature needed not only to support their higher expression of RNA for inflammatory markers but also their higher autoimmune antibody secretion. Conclusions: These results identify a relationship between intrinsic inflammation, metabolism and autoimmune B cells and suggest possible ways to understand cellular mechanisms that lead to the generation of pathogenic B cells, that are hyper-inflammatory and hyper-metabolic, and secrete IgG antibodies with autoimmune specificities.
- B cells
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