• In aging, B-cell regeneration is regulated by cross-talk between peripheral B cells and progenitors in the BM.

  • This repression is mediated by a TNF-α/IGFBP-1/IGF-1 immune-endocrine axis; perturbation of this axis restores B-cell lymphopoiesis in aging.

Loss of B lymphocyte regeneration in the bone marrow (BM) is an immunologic hallmark of advanced age, which impairs the replenishment of peripheral B-cell subsets and results in impaired humoral responses, thereby contributing to immune system dysfunction associated with aging. A better understanding of the mechanism behind this loss may suggest ways to restore immune competence and promote healthy aging. In this study, we uncover an immune-endocrine regulatory circuit that mediates cross-talk between peripheral B cells and progenitors in the BM, to balance B-cell lymphopoiesis in both human and mouse aging. We found that tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), which is increasingly produced by peripheral B cells during aging, stimulates the production of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 1 (IGFBP-1), which binds and sequesters insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the circulation, thereby restraining its activity in promoting B-cell lymphopoiesis in the BM. Upon B-cell depletion in aging humans and mice, circulatory TNF-α decreases, resulting in increased IGF-1 and reactivation of B-cell lymphopoiesis. Perturbation of this circuit by administration of IGF-1 to old mice or anti–TNF-α antibodies to human patients restored B-cell lymphopoiesis in the BM. Thus, we suggest that in both human and mouse aging, peripheral B cells use the TNF-α/IGFBP-1/IGF-1 axis to repress B-cell lymphopoiesis. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.govas#NCT00863187.

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