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J Immunol. 2007 Jul 15;179(2):1369-80.

B cell depletion delays collagen-induced arthritis in mice: arthritis induction requires synergy between humoral and cell-mediated immunity.

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


Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease. B cells are likely to play a critical role in arthritis pathogenesis, although it is unclear whether they are necessary for disease induction, autoantibody production, or disease progression. To assess the role of B cells in inflammatory arthritis, B cells were depleted using mouse anti-mouse CD20 mAbs in a mouse model of collagen-induced arthritis. CD20 mAbs effectively depleted mature B cells from adult DBA-1 mice. When B cells were depleted using CD20 mAbs before collagen immunization, there was a delay in disease onset and autoantibody production, with significantly diminished severity of arthritis both clinically and histologically. B cell depletion further delayed disease onset if initiated before, as well as after, collagen immunization. However, in both cases, the eventual reappearance of peripheral B cells triggered autoantibody production and the subsequent development of arthritis in collagen-sensitized mice. By contrast, B cell depletion after collagen immunizations did not have a significant effect on arthritis progression or severity. Thus, disease symptoms were only induced when peripheral B cells and their autoantibody products were present in collagen-immunized mice, documenting a critical role for B cells during the elicitation phase of collagen-induced arthritis. These studies suggest that B cell depletion strategies will be most effective when initiated early in the development of inflammatory arthritis, with sustained B cell depletion required to inhibit the production of isotype-switched pathogenic Abs and the evolution of joint inflammation and destruction.

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