Despite the existence of central tolerance mechanisms, including clonal deletion and receptor editing to eliminate self-reactive B cells, moderately self-reactive cells still survive in the periphery (about 20% of peripheral B cells). These cells normally exist in a functionally silenced state called anergy; thus, anergy has been thought to contribute to tolerance by active-silencing of potentially dangerous B cells. However, a positive rationale for the existence of these anergic B cells has recently been suggested by discoveries that broadly neutralizing antibodies for HIV and influenza virus possess poly- and/or auto-reactivity. Given the conundrum of generating inherent holes in the immune repertoire, retaining weakly self-reactive BCRs on anergic B cells could allow these antibodies to serve as an effective defense against pathogens, particularly in the case of pathogens that mimic forbidden self-epitopes to evade the host immune system. Thus, anergic B cells should be brought into a silenced or activated state, depending on their contexts. Here, we review recent progress in our understanding of how the anergic B cell state is controlled in B cell–intrinsic and B cell–extrinsic ways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy