December 5, 2022 -- New research reveals that B cells, white blood cells that are critical to the proper functioning of the immune system, greatly increase after bowel damage and prevent the tissue from healing. The findings have implications for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that the B cell population increases sharply in the colon during the healing of colonic lesions, and these cells mainly accumulate in areas where the damage is severe (Immunity, December 2, 2022). This prevents the interaction between stromal and epithelial cells, which is needed for the tissue to heal.
Using an experimental model of colitis and tissue from patients with ulcerative colitis, they analyzed cell populations. Mice lacking B cells recovered much more quickly after bowel damage than regular mice in their experiments.
Going forward, the researchers will test whether depleting B cells at specific times will be effective with IBD, and if the increase in these cell populations has a long-term benefit.
"There are already approved drugs that affect the B cell response and that are used for other diseases," Gustavo Monasterio, PhD, a postdoc in Eduardo Villablanca's Lab at Karolinska Institutet, said in a statement. "We now want to test if depleting B cells at specific time windows could also work with IBD. We also need to find out if the accumulation of B cells can have a long-term beneficial effect, such as by changing the composition of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract."