Boldison, Da Rosa, Buckingham, Davies, Wen, Wong (2019) Phenotypically distinct anti-insulin B cells repopulate pancreatic islets after anti-CD20 treatment in NOD mice Diabetologia 62(11) 2052-2065


Autoreactive B cells escape immune tolerance and contribute to the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. While global B cell depletion is a successful therapy for autoimmune disease, the fate of autoreactive cells during this treatment in autoimmune diabetes is unknown. We aimed to identify and track anti-insulin B cells in pancreatic islets and understand their repopulation after anti-CD20 treatment. We generated a double transgenic system, the VH125.hCD20/NOD mouse. The VH125 transgenic mouse, expressing an increased frequency of anti-insulin B cells, was crossed with a human CD20 (hCD20) transgenic mouse, to facilitate B cell depletion using anti-CD20. B cells were analysed using multiparameter and ImageStream flow cytometry. We demonstrated that anti-insulin B cells were recruited to the pancreas during disease progression in VH125.hCD20/NOD mice. We identified two distinct populations of anti-insulin B cells in pancreatic islets, based on CD19 expression, with both populations enriched in the CD138int fraction. Anti-insulin B cells were not identified in the plasma-cell CD138hi fraction, which also expressed the transcription factor Blimp-1. After anti-CD20 treatment, anti-insulin B cells repopulated the pancreatic islets earlier than non-specific B cells. Importantly, we observed that a CD138intinsulin+CD19- population was particularly enriched after B cell depletion, possibly contributing to the persistence of disease still observed in some mice after anti-CD20 treatment. Our observations may indicate why the loss of C-peptide is only temporarily delayed following anti-CD20 treatment in human type 1 diabetes.