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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001 Feb;40(2):205-11.

Sustained improvement in rheumatoid arthritis following a protocol designed to deplete B lymphocytes.

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  • 1University College London Centre for Rheumatology, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

An open study of B-lymphocyte depletion was undertaken in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients to test the hypothesis that B lymphocytes may be essential to disease perpetuation.

METHODS:

Five patients with refractory RA were treated with a monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody, cyclophosphamide and prednisolone and followed for 12-17 months. Patient 2 received further treatments at 8 and 12 months and patient 4 at 11 months.

RESULTS:

At 26 weeks all patients satisfied the American College of Rheumatology ACR50 and patients 1-3 the ACR70 criteria of improvement, without further therapy. Patients 1, 3 and 5 achieved ACR70 at 1 yr and rheumatoid factor (RF) levels fell to normal. In patients 3 and 5, B lymphocytes returned without relapse. Patient 2 relapsed at 28 weeks and patient 4 at 38 weeks, coincident with the return of B lymphocytes in the presence of raised RF levels. Both achieved ACR70 on retreatment. Adverse events were limited to respiratory episodes (two patients) and marginal thrombocytopenia (one patient).

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings are consistent with the concept that RA is critically dependent on B lymphocytes and suggest that B-lymphocyte depletion may be a safe and effective therapy.

PMID:
11257159
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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