The process of B cell growth and differentiation into plasma cells is highly regulated and may be influenced by a large number of inflammatory mediators, including complement components. We have studied the regulatory influence of Bb, a 60-kD peptide created during the cleavage of complement Factor B by Factor D and C3b. Purified Bb alone had no effect on proliferation and differentiation of human splenic or tonsillar B cells. However, when B cells were activated by Staphylococcus aureus Cowan I (SAC), Bb enhanced proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Bb also enhanced proliferation when cocultured with SAC and suboptimal concentrations of purified 60-kD B cell growth factor (HMW-BCGF), a previously described lymphokine that is known to possess growth-promoting activity. However, Bb had no effect on cells treated with optimal concentrations of HMW-BCGF. Like HMW-BCGF, Bb's major effect was on the larger in vivo activated B cells. Half-maximal enhancement of proliferation was reached at a Bb concentration of 1-10 nM. Of note is the fact that antibody to Factor B recognized HMW-BCGF, and an mAb to HMW-BCGF also recognized Factor B and Bb, but not Ba. Moreover, radiolabeled Bb bound saturably to activated B cells and to an EBV-transformed human B cell line. The binding of Bb was inhibited by HMW-BCGF but not by Ba or IgG. Thus, Bb is antigenically and functionally related to HMW-BCGF, and can act as a B cell growth and differentiation factor at potentially physiologic concentrations. These data suggest that Bb may be important in amplifying the immune response in areas of inflammation. Since complement activation occurs at inflammatory sites long before induction of HMW-BCGF synthesis, Bb may be an early signal for the clonal expansion of antigen-activated B cells.

This content is only available as a PDF.