Author(s): Golay J, Lazzari M, Facchinetti V, Bernasconi S, Borleri G,
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Abstract Complement-dependent cytotoxicity is thought to be an important mechanism of action of the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab. This study investigates the sensitivity of freshly isolated cells obtained from 33 patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), 5 patients with prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL), and 6 patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) to be lysed by rituximab and complement in vitro. The results showed that in B-CLL and PLL, the levels of CD20, measured by standard immunofluorescence or using calibrated beads, correlated linearly with the lytic response (coefficient greater than or equal to 0.9; P <.0001). Furthermore, the correlation remained highly significant when the 6 patients with MCL were included in the analysis (coefficient 0.91; P <.0001), which suggests that CD20 levels primarily determine lysis regardless of diagnostic group. The role of the complement inhibitors CD46, CD55, and CD59 was also investigated. All B-CLL and PLL cells expressed these molecules, but at different levels. CD46 was relatively weak on all samples (mean fluorescence intensity less than 100), whereas CD55 and CD59 showed variability of expression (mean fluorescence intensity 20-1200 and 20-250, respectively). Although CD55 and CD59 levels did not permit prediction of complement susceptibility, the functional block of these inhibitors demonstrated that they play an important role in regulating complement-dependent cytotoxicity. Thus, lysis of poorly responding B-CLL samples was increased 5- to 6-fold after blocking both CD55 and CD59, whereas that of high responders was essentially complete in the presence of a single blocking antibody. These data demonstrate that CD20, CD55, and CD59 are important factors determining the in vitro response to rituximab and complement and indicate potential strategies to improve the clinical response to this biologic therapy.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy