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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;82(11):1291-4. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2010.222216. Epub 2010 Dec 16.

B-cell-activating factor in rituximab-treated patients with anti-MAG polyneuropathy.

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  • 1Department of Neurology,Osp. S. Andrea, La Spezia, Italy.



Antimyelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) polyneuropathy is a slowly progressive distal form of mixed motor-sensory polyneuropathy that is scarcely responsive to conventional immunosuppressive therapy. Rituximab, a B-cell depleting antibody, is a promising therapeutic choice for anti-MAG polyneuropathy, and the evaluation of factors, such as B-cell-activating factor (BAFF), that control B-cell homeostasis is important to understand how this drug works.


Using an ELISA method, the authors measured serum BAFF concentrations in 23 patients with anti-MAG polyneuropathy, before and after rituximab therapy, in 20 neurological controls and in 14 healthy subjects. The patients were followed up over a mean period of 38±12 months and categorised as responders/non-responders, and, between the responders, as relapsing/non-relapsing.


Pretherapy serum BAFF concentrations in non-responders were higher than in responders (cut-off 1665 pg/ml; sensitivity 71.4%; specificity 93.7%; likelihood ratio 11.4), with the highest post-therapy increases in responders. In the responders who relapsed, relapses occurred when serum BAFF concentrations returned to baseline values, 1-2 years after blood B-cell reappearance.


Before and during therapy, measurements of serum BAFF in rituximab-treated patients with anti-MAG polyneuropathy may help predict the response to the therapy. The findings in this study also provide information about rituximab-induced modifications on B-cell homeostatic regulation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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