While autoantibodies are used in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the function of B cells in the inflamed joint remains elusive. Extensive flow cytometric characterization and SPICE algorithm analyses of single-cell synovial tissue from patients with RA revealed the accumulation of switched and double-negative memory programmed death-1 receptor–expressing (PD-1–expressing) B cells at the site of inflammation. Accumulation of memory B cells was mediated by CXCR3, evident by the observed increase in CXCR3-expressing synovial B cells compared with the periphery, differential regulation by key synovial cytokines, and restricted B cell invasion demonstrated in response to CXCR3 blockade. Notably, under 3% O2 hypoxic conditions that mimic the joint microenvironment, RA B cells maintained marked expression of MMP-9, TNF, and IL-6, with PD-1+ B cells demonstrating higher expression of CXCR3, CD80, CD86, IL-1β, and GM-CSF than their PD-1– counterparts. Finally, following functional analysis and flow cell sorting of RA PD-1+ versus PD-1– B cells, we demonstrate, using RNA-Seq and emerging fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy of cellular NAD, a significant shift in metabolism of RA PD-1+ B cells toward glycolysis, associated with an increased transcriptional signature of key cytokines and chemokines that are strongly implicated in RA pathogenesis. Our data support the targeting of pathogenic PD-1+ B cells in RA as a focused, novel therapeutic option.
Achilleas Floudas, Nuno Neto, Viviana Marzaioli, Kieran Murray, Barry Moran, Michael G. Monaghan, Candice Low, Ronan H. Mullan, Navin Rao, Vinod Krishna, Sunil Nagpal, Douglas J. Veale, Ursula Fearon