Interactions between mycoplasmas and B cells consist primarily of the development of specific antibody and of nonspecific interactionswith B lymphocytes or antibody. Antibody responses are important in the resistance to mycoplasmal disease in both humans and animals. However, the ability of mycoplasmas to survive in their host despite vigorous responses suggests that these play a limited role in the host's recovery from infection. Antibody also may prevent dissemination of mycoplasmal infections from mucosal sites and may account for the appearance of systemic mycoplasmal infections in immunocompromised patients. In some cases, antibody responses may contribute to disease pathogenesis through the development of hypersensitivity responses or the deposition of immune complexes. In addition, nonspecific interactions between mycoplasmas and B lymphocytes have been implicated in disease pathogenesis, possibly leading to autoimmune reactions, modulation of immunity, and/or promotion of lesion development. For example, several mycoplasmas, including Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pulmonis, are able to activate B cells polyclonally in vitro and in vivo, but the mechanisms and consequences of these responses have yet to be defined. In addition to activating B lymphocytes, mycoplasmas are capable of producing chemotactic factors, Fc receptors, and immunoglobulin proteases that may also be involved in lesion development and/or survival of the organisms. Thus, both specific and nonspecific interactions of mycoplasmas with B cells can have important effects on disease progression, especially since many mycoplasmal infections are chronic and the cumulative effect of these interactionsmay be substantial.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Clin Infect Dis. 1993 Aug;17 Suppl 1:S176-82