Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4027-35.

Complement-induced cell death by rituximab depends on CD20 expression level and acts complementary to antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity.

Author information

  • 1Department of Haematology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



The use of the CD20-specific antibody rituximab has greatly improved the response to treatment of CD20+ follicular lymphoma. Despite the success of rituximab, resistance has been reported and prognostic markers to predict individual response are lacking. The level of CD20 expression on tumors has been related to response, but results of several studies are contradictory and no clear relationship could be established. Complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) are thought to be important effector mechanisms, but the exact mechanism of rituximab-mediated cell kill is still unknown. Importantly, no data have been reported on the combined contribution of CDC and ADCC.


We have developed a system of clonally related CEM-CD20 cells by retroviral transfer of the human CD20 cDNA (n = 90). This set of cells, with the CD20 molecule as the only variable, was used to study the importance of CD20 expression level on rituximab-mediated CDC, ADCC, and the combination.


We show a sigmoidal correlation of CD20 expression level and rituximab-mediated killing via CDC but not ADCC. On both high and low CD20-expressing cells, all CD20 molecules were translocated into lipid rafts after rituximab binding. Furthermore, CDC and ADCC act simultaneously and CDC-resistant cells are sensitive to ADCC and vice versa.


These findings suggest that CDC depends on CD20 expression level and that both CDC and ADCC act complementary. These data give new insights into novel strategies to improve the efficacy of CD20-specific antibodies for the treatment of CD20+ tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk