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Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Jul;64(7):2328-37. doi: 10.1002/art.34400.

Belimumab reduces autoantibodies, normalizes low complement levels, and reduces select B cell populations in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

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  • 1Los Angeles County+University of Southern California Medical Center and University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA. stohl@usc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the effects of the B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS)-specific inhibitor belimumab on immunologic biomarkers, including B cell and T cell populations, and maintenance of antibody titers to prior vaccines in autoantibody-positive systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.

METHODS:

Pooled data from 2 phase III trials, the Study of Belimumab in Subjects with SLE 52-week (BLISS-52) and 76-week (BLISS-76) trials, comparing belimumab 1 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg versus placebo (plus standard SLE therapy for each group) were analyzed for changes in autoantibody, immunoglobulin, and complement levels. BLISS-76 patients were also analyzed for changes in B cell and T cell populations and effects on prior vaccine-induced antibody levels.

RESULTS:

Belimumab-treated patients experienced significant sustained reductions in IgG and autoantibodies and improvement in C3/C4 levels, resulting in greater positive-to-negative conversion rates for IgG anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA), anti-Sm, anticardiolipin, and anti-ribosomal P autoantibodies and normalization of hypergammaglobulinemia and low C3/C4 levels. Belimumab-treated patients experienced significant decreases in the numbers of naive and activated B cells, as well as plasma cells, whereas memory B cells and T cell populations did not decrease. Belimumab did not substantially affect preexisting antipneumococcal or anti-tetanus toxoid antibody levels. Post hoc analysis showed greater reductions in SLE disease activity and the risk of severe flares in patients treated with belimumab 10 mg/kg (P≤0.01) who were anti-dsDNA positive and had low C3/C4 levels at baseline. Normalization of the C3 or anti-dsDNA level by 8 weeks, irrespective of therapy, was predictive of a reduced risk of severe flare over 52 weeks.

CONCLUSION:

Belimumab appears to promote normalization of serologic activity and reduce BLyS-dependent B cell subsets in serologically and clinically active SLE. Greater serologic activity may predict a better treatment response to belimumab.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00410384 NCT00424476.

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Rheumatology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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