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J Immunol. 2008 Jan 1;180(1):361-71.

Maintenance of long-lived plasma cells and serological memory despite mature and memory B cell depletion during CD20 immunotherapy in mice.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


CD20 mAb-mediated B cell depletion is an effective treatment for B cell malignancies and some autoimmune diseases. However, the full effects of B cell depletion on natural, primary, and secondary Ab responses and the maintenance of Ag-specific serum Ig levels are largely unknown. The relationship between memory B cells, long-lived plasma cells, and long-lived humoral immunity also remains controversial. To address the roles of B cell subsets in the longevity of humoral responses, mature B cells were depleted in mice using CD20 mAb. Peritoneal B cell depletion reduced natural and Ag-induced IgM responses. Otherwise, CD20+ B cell depletion prevented humoral immune responses and class switching and depleted existing and adoptively transferred B cell memory. Nonetheless, B cell depletion did not affect serum Ig levels, Ag-specific Ab titers, or bone marrow Ab-secreting plasma cell numbers. Coblockade of LFA-1 and VLA-4 adhesion molecules temporarily depleted long-lived plasma cells from the bone marrow. CD20+ B cell depletion plus LFA-1/VLA-4 mAb treatment significantly prolonged Ag-specific plasma cell depletion from the bone marrow, with a significant decrease in Ag-specific serum IgG. Collectively, these results support previous claims that bone marrow plasma cells are intrinsically long-lived. Furthermore, these studies now demonstrate that mature and memory B cells are not required for maintaining bone marrow plasma cell numbers, but are required for repopulation of plasma cell-deficient bone marrow. Thereby, depleting mature and memory B cells does not have a dramatic negative effect on preexisting Ab levels.

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