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Rituximab induces sustained reduction of pathogenic B cells in patients with peripheral nervous system autoimmunity


Maurer, Michael A; Rakocevic, Goran; Leung, Carol S; Quast, Isaak; Lukačišin, Martin; Goebels, Norbert; Münz, Christian; Wardemann, Hedda; Dalakas, Marinos; Lünemann, Jan D (2012). Rituximab induces sustained reduction of pathogenic B cells in patients with peripheral nervous system autoimmunity. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 122(4):1393-1402.

Abstract

The B cell-depleting IgG1 monoclonal antibody rituximab can persistently suppress disease progression in some patients with autoimmune diseases. However, the mechanism underlying these long-term beneficial effects has remained unclear. Here, we evaluated Ig gene usage in patients with anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein (anti-MAG) neuropathy, an autoimmune disease of the peripheral nervous system that is mediated by IgM autoantibodies binding to MAG antigen. Patients with anti-MAG neuropathy showed substantial clonal expansions of blood IgM memory B cells that recognized MAG antigen. The group of patients showing no clinical improvement after rituximab therapy were distinguished from clinical responders by a higher load of clonal IgM memory B cell expansions before and after therapy, by persistence of clonal expansions despite efficient peripheral B cell depletion, and by a lack of substantial changes in somatic hypermutation frequencies of IgM memory B cells. We infer from these data that the effectiveness of rituximab therapy depends on efficient depletion of noncirculating B cells and is associated with qualitative immunological changes that indicate reconfiguration of B cell memory through sustained reduction of autoreactive clonal expansions. These findings support the continued development of B cell-depleting therapies for autoimmune diseases.

The B cell-depleting IgG1 monoclonal antibody rituximab can persistently suppress disease progression in some patients with autoimmune diseases. However, the mechanism underlying these long-term beneficial effects has remained unclear. Here, we evaluated Ig gene usage in patients with anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein (anti-MAG) neuropathy, an autoimmune disease of the peripheral nervous system that is mediated by IgM autoantibodies binding to MAG antigen. Patients with anti-MAG neuropathy showed substantial clonal expansions of blood IgM memory B cells that recognized MAG antigen. The group of patients showing no clinical improvement after rituximab therapy were distinguished from clinical responders by a higher load of clonal IgM memory B cell expansions before and after therapy, by persistence of clonal expansions despite efficient peripheral B cell depletion, and by a lack of substantial changes in somatic hypermutation frequencies of IgM memory B cells. We infer from these data that the effectiveness of rituximab therapy depends on efficient depletion of noncirculating B cells and is associated with qualitative immunological changes that indicate reconfiguration of B cell memory through sustained reduction of autoreactive clonal expansions. These findings support the continued development of B cell-depleting therapies for autoimmune diseases.

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28 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Experimental Immunology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:18 Jan 2013 15:25
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:17
Publisher:American Society for Clinical Investigation
ISSN:0021-9738
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI58743
PubMed ID:22426210
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-70121

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