Author(s): Dalakas MC
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Abstract B cells have a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of various autoimmune neurological disorders, not only as precursors of antibody-producing cells, but also as important regulators of the T-cell activation process through their participation in antigen presentation, cytokine production, and formation of ectopic germinal centers in the intermeningeal spaces. Two B-cell trophic factors-BAFF (B-cell-activating factor) and APRIL (a proliferation-inducing ligand)-and their receptors are strongly upregulated in many immunological disorders of the CNS and PNS, and these molecules contribute to clonal expansion of B cells in situ. The availability of monoclonal antibodies or fusion proteins against B-cell surface molecules and trophic factors provides a rational approach to the treatment of autoimmune neurological diseases. This article reviews the role of B cells in autoimmune neurological disorders and summarizes the experience to date with rituximab, a B-cell-depleting monoclonal antibody against CD20, for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, autoimmune neuropathies, neuromyelitis optica, paraneoplastic neurological disorders, myasthenia gravis, and inflammatory myopathies. It is expected that ongoing controlled trials will establish the efficacy and long-term safety profile of anti-B-cell agents in several autoimmune neurological disorders, as well as exploring the possibility of a safe and synergistic effect with other immunosuppressants or immunomodulators.
This article was published in Nat Clin Pract Neurol
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology