B cells represent a key cellular component of humoral immunity. Besides antigen presentation and antibody production, B cells also play a role in immune regulation and induction of tolerance through several mechanisms. Our understanding of B-lineage cells with regulatory ability has been revolutionized by the delineation of heterogeneous subsets of these cells. Specific environmental signals may further determine the polarization and function of B-lineage regulatory cells. With the availability of new genetic, molecular and pharmacological tools, considerable advances have been made toward our understanding of the surface phenotype, developmental processes and functions of these cells. These exciting discoveries, some of which are still controversial, also raise many new questions, which makes the inhibitory function of B cells a rapidly growing field in immunopathology. Here we review highlights of the regulatory activity of B cells and the recent advances in the function and phenotype of these B-cell subsets in healthy and diseased states.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes