, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 85-94
Date: 31 Jul 2009

Autoreactive B Cells and Epigenetics

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Autoreactive B cells are central in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases (AID) not only by producing autoantibodies but also by secreting cytokines and by presenting autoantigens. Changes in DNA methylation, histone modifications, and miRNA expression, the hallmarks of epigenetic failure, characterize B cells isolated from patients with AID, highlighting the contribution of epigenetic processes to autoreactivity. Additional evidence of epigenetic involvement in the development of B cell autoreactivity comes from in vivo and in vitro studies using DNA demethylating agents as accelerating factors or histone deacetylase inhibitors as repressing factors. As a result, a better understanding of the altered epigenetic processes in AID and in particular in B cells opens perspectives for the development of new therapeutics.

This work was supported by grants from the Conseil Regional de Bretagne, the Conseil Général du Finistère, and the French Ministry for Education and Research.