Recent data show that B cells and plasma cells located in tumours or in tumour-draining lymph nodes can have important roles in shaping antitumour immune responses. In tumour-associated tertiary lymphoid structures, T cells and B cells interact and undergo cooperative selection, specialization and clonal expansion. Importantly, B cells can present cognate tumour-derived antigens to T cells, with the functional consequences of such interactions being shaped by the B cell phenotype. Furthermore, the isotype and specificity of the antibodies produced by plasma cells can drive distinct immune responses. Here we summarize our current knowledge of the roles of B cells and antibodies in the tumour microenvironment. Moreover, we discuss the potential of using immunoglobulin repertoires as a source of tumour-specific receptors for immunotherapy or as biomarkers to predict the efficacy of immunotherapeutic interventions.
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The work was supported by grants from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (14.W03.31.0005) and Russian Science Foundation (19-14-00317, in part of antibody repertoire analysis methods).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Reviews Immunology thanks K. Willard-Gallo and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
- The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database
The most comprehensive cancer genomics database; it contains multiple types of genomic data with histological information and clinical records for more than 11,000 patients and 33 cancer types.
- Cryptic peptide antigens
Antigens that originate from translation of sequences outside annotated open reading frames. They may derive from non-annotated open reading frames, non-coding genomic regions, alternative start codons, frameshift mutations, alternative splicing or ribosomal frameshifting. Protein splicing and post-translational modifications can also be classified as cryptic peptide antigens.
- Thomsen–Friedenreich antigen
A tumour-associated carbohydrate antigen highly expressed by approximately 90% of human carcinomas. It is believed to facilitate tumour growth by allowing increased interaction of the tumour cells with carbohydrate-binding lectins.
- Immune complexes
Antigen–antibody complexes, may include multiple antigen and antibody molecules, as well as complement proteins. They may modulate activity of myeloid cells, triggering chronic inflammation and tissue remodelling processes, and facilitating formation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells.
- Myeloid-derived suppressor cell
An immunosuppressive myeloid cell that develops under chronic inflammatory conditions. These cells can be subdivided into monocytic and polymorphonuclear myeloid-derived suppressor cells.
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Sharonov, G.V., Serebrovskaya, E.O., Yuzhakova, D.V. et al. B cells, plasma cells and antibody repertoires in the tumour microenvironment. Nat Rev Immunol 20, 294–307 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-019-0257-x
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