Although originally identified as a B cell differentiation factor, it is now known that mammalian interleukin-6 (IL-6) only regulates B cells committed to plasma cells in response to T-dependent (TD) antigens within germinal centers (GCs). Even though adaptive immunity is present in teleost fish, these species lack lymph nodes and GCs. Thus, the aim of the present study was to establish the role of trout IL-6 on B cells, comparing its effects to those induced by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We demonstrate that the effects of teleost IL-6 on naïve spleen B cells include proliferation, activation of NF-κB, increased IgM secretion, up-regulation of Blimp1 transcription and decreased MHC-II surface expression that point to trout IL-6 as a differentiation factor for IgM antibody-secreting cells (ASCs). However, LPS induced the secretion of IgM without up-regulating Blimp1, driving the cells towards an intermediate activation state in which antigen presenting mechanisms are elicited together with antibody secretion and expression of pro-inflammatory genes. Our results reveal that, in trout, IL-6 is a differentiation factor for B cells, stimulating IgM responses in the absence of follicular structures, and suggest that it was after follicular structures appeared that this cytokine evolved to modulate TD responses within the GC.
- B cells
- Interleukin 6 (IL-6)
- lipopolysaccharide (LPS);
- anti-body-secreting cells (ASCs)