Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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REVIEW: PROGRESS IN MEDICINE
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 221-225

B cells as a target of immune modulation


The Ohio State University Medical Center, 2050 Kenny Road, Suite 2250, Columbus, Ohio 43221, USA

Correspondence Address:
Kathleen Hawker
The Ohio State University Medical Center, 2050 Kenny Road, Suite 2250, Columbus, Ohio 43221
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.58275

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B cells have recently been identified as an integral component of the immune system; they play a part in autoimmunity through antigen presentation, antibody secretion, and complement activation. Animal models of multiple sclerosis (MS) suggest that myelin destruction is partly mediated through B cell activation (and plasmablasts). MS patients with evidence of B cell involvement, as compared to those without, tend to have a worse prognosis. Finally, the significant decrease in new gadolinium-enhancing lesions, new T2 lesions, and relapses in MS patients treated with rituximab (a monoclonal antibody against CD20 on B cells) leads us to the conclusion that B cells play an important role in MS and that immune modulation of these cells may ameliorate the disease. This article will explore the role of B cells in MS and the rationale for the development of B cell-targeted therapeutics. MS is an immune-mediated disease that affects over 2 million people worldwide and is the number one cause of disability in young patients. Most therapeutic targets have focused on T cells; however, recently, the focus has shifted to the role of B cells in the pathogenesis of MS and the potential of B cells as a therapeutic target.


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