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Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi. 2005 Apr;96(4):86-92.

[B cells as key contributors in determining the level of immune responses -B-cell-targeted therapy in patients with autoimmune diseases].

[Article in Japanese]

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Matsuyama Red Cross Hospital.


The levels and types of immune responses are determined dependent on the extent of pathogen invasion, reactions to antigens mediated by macrophage-dendritic cells, T cells and antibodies. Recently, accumulating evidence suggests that B cells also play an important role in the regulation of immune responses. Here we have made a review to present a role of B cells in determining the level of immune responses and discussed about the clinical significance of B cell-targeted therapy in patients with autoimmune diseases. Type 1 diabetes is a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. We and other groups have elucidated that B cells play a critical role in the development of insulitis and diabetes, as B-cell-deficient NOD mice are protected from developing type 1 diabetes. B cells are essential for the T cell receptor clonotype spreading of islet-infiltrating T cells, indicating that B cells may play a role in determining the level of immune responses by antigen presentation to antigen specific T cells. There are now numerous case reports and small series of clinical trials regarding rituximab therapy in autoimmune diseases, such as refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia, IgM antibody-associated polyneuropathy, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Rituximab is a genetically engineered chimeric anti-CD 20 monoclonal antibody that is approved for the treatment of lymphoma. CD20 is a B-cell surface antigen that is expressed only on pre- B and mature B cells. Thus, rituximab causes a selective transient depletion of the CD20+ B -cell subpopulation. Rationale and strategy for targeting B cells in the treatment of autoimmune diseases consist of the inhibition of antigen-presentation and co-stimulation that induces T cell expansion and activation. Further careful mechanistic studies are required to develop therapies in patients with autoimmune diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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