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1.  Challenges in understanding Sjögren's syndrome - improved insights into the pathogenesis generate hope for innovative therapies? 
The reviews in this series on Sjögren syndrome provide an up-to-date summary and perspectives on the pathogenesis of this interesting entity with glandular and frequently systemic manifestations, the value of preclinical models, and our current understanding of therapeutic approaches. The last of these includes what has been learned from trials blocking tumor necrosis factor and, more recently, anti-CD20 therapy. Potential therapeutic targets, such as blockade of the B cell-activating factor, the role of interferon-alpha, and targeting CD22, are discussed.
doi:10.1186/ar3425
PMCID: PMC3239360  PMID: 21888689
2.  Rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine practice (GERINIS): six-year results from a prospective, multicentre, non-interventional study in 2,484 patients 
Introduction
The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in a large cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine care, and to monitor changes in daily practice since the introduction of RTX therapy.
Methods
This was a multicentre, prospective, non-interventional study conducted under routine practice conditions in Germany. Efficacy was evaluated using Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) and Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Safety was assessed by recording adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Physician and patient global efficacy and tolerability assessments were also evaluated.
Results
Overall, 2,484 patients (76.7% female, mean age 56.4 years, mean disease duration 11.7 years) received RTX treatment (22.7% monotherapy). The total observation period was approximately six-years (median follow-up 14.7 months). RTX treatment led to improvements in DAS28 and HAQ-DI that were sustained over multiple courses. DAS28 improvements positively correlated with higher rheumatoid factor levels up to 50 IU/ml. Response and tolerability were rated good/very good by the majority of physicians and patients. Mean treatment intervals were 10.5 and 6.8 months for the first and last 400 enrolled patients, respectively. Infections were the most frequently reported ADRs (9.1%; 11.39/100 patient-years); approximately 1% of patients per course discontinued therapy due to ADRs.
Conclusions
Prolonged RTX treatment in routine care is associated with good efficacy and tolerability, as measured by conventional parameters and by physicians’ and patients’ global assessments. Rheumatoid factor status served as a distinct and quantitative biomarker of RTX responsiveness. With growing experience, physicians repeated treatments earlier in patients with less severe disease activity.
doi:10.1186/ar4521
PMCID: PMC4060207  PMID: 24670196
3.  The anti-CD74 humanized monoclonal antibody, milatuzumab, which targets the invariant chain of MHC II complexes, alters B-cell proliferation, migration, and adhesion molecule expression 
Introduction
Targeting CD74 as the invariant chain of major histocompatibility complexes (MHC) became possible by the availability of a specific humanized monoclonal antibody, milatuzumab, which is under investigation in patients with hematological neoplasms. CD74 has been reported to regulate chemo-attractant migration of macrophages and dendritic cells, while the role of CD74 on peripheral naïve and memory B cells also expressing CD74 remains unknown. Therefore, the current study addressed the influence of milatuzumab on B-cell proliferation, chemo-attractant migration, and adhesion molecule expression.
Methods
Surface expression of CD74 on CD27- naïve and CD27+ memory B cells as well as other peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from normals, including the co-expression of CD44, CXCR4, and the adhesion molecules CD62L, β7-integrin, β1-integrin and CD9 were studied after binding of milatuzumab using multicolor flow cytometry. The influence of the antibody on B-cell proliferation and migration was analyzed in vitro in detail.
Results
In addition to monocytes, milatuzumab also specifically bound to human peripheral B cells, with a higher intensity on CD27+ memory versus CD27- naïve B cells. The antibody reduced B-cell proliferation significantly but moderately, induced enhanced spontaneous and CXCL12-dependent migration together with changes in the expression of adhesion molecules, CD44, β7-integrin and CD62L, mainly of CD27- naïve B cells. This was independent of macrophage migration-inhibitory factor as a ligand of CD74/CD44 complexes.
Conclusions
Milatuzumab leads to modestly reduced proliferation, alterations in migration, and adhesion molecule expression preferentially of CD27- naïve B cells. It thus may be a candidate antibody for the autoimmune disease therapy by modifying B cell functions.
doi:10.1186/ar3767
PMCID: PMC3446420  PMID: 22404985
5.  Active systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with a reduced cytokine production by B cells in response to TLR9 stimulation 
Introduction
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease associated with a break in self-tolerance reflected by a production of antinuclear autoantibodies. Since autoantibody production can be activated via nucleic acid Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), the respective pathway has been implicated in the development of SLE and pathogenic B cell responses. However, the response of B cells from SLE patients to TLR9 stimulation remains incompletely characterized.
Methods
In the current study, the response of B cells from SLE patients and healthy donors upon TLR9 stimulation was analyzed in terms of proliferation and cytokine production and correlated with the lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titers.
Results
B cells from SLE patients showed a reduced response to TLR9 agonist compared to B cells from healthy donors in terms of proliferation and activation. B cells from SLE patients with higher disease activity produced less interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, vascular endothelial growth factor, and IL-1ra than B cells from healthy donors. Further analyses revealed an inverse correlation of cytokines produced by TLR9-stimulated B cells with lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titer, respectively.
Conclusion
The capacity of B cells from lupus patients to produce cytokines upon TLR9 engagement becomes less efficient with increasing disease activity, suggesting that they either enter an exhausted state or become tolerant to TLR stimulation for cytokine production when disease worsens.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1
PMCID: PMC4247768  PMID: 25385499
6.  Mechanisms of B cell autoimmunity in SLE 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease that is known to be associated with polyclonal B-cell hyperreactivity. The underlying causes of the diffuse B-cell over-reactivity are unclear, but potential candidates include (a) intrinsic hyper-reactivity leading to polyclonal B-cell activation with disturbed activation thresholds and ineffective negative selection; (b) lack of immunoregulatory functions; (c) secondary effects of an overactive inflammatory environment, such as overactive germinal center and ectopic follicular activity; and/or (d) disturbed cytokine production by non-B immune cells. These mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and may operate to varying extents and at varying times in SLE. Phenotypic and molecular studies as well as the results of recent clinical trials have begun to provide new insights to address these possibilities. Of importance, new information has made it possible to distinguish between the contribution played by abnormalities in central checkpoints that could lead to a pre-immune repertoire enriched in autoreactive B cells, on the one hand, and the possibility that autoimmunity arises in the periphery from somatic hypermutation and abnormal selection during T cell-dependent B-cell responses on the other. There is an intriguing possibility that apoptotic material bound to the surface of follicular dendritic cells positively selects autoreactive B cells that arise from non-autoreactive B-cell precursors as a result of somatic hypermutation and thereby promotes the peripheral emergence of autoimmunity.
doi:10.1186/ar3433
PMCID: PMC3308063  PMID: 22078750
8.  Single-step autoantibody profiling in antiphospholipid syndrome using a multi-line dot assay 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(4):R118.
Introduction
Diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) still remains a laboratory challenge due to the great diversity of antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) and their significance regarding APS-diagnostic criteria.
Methods
A multi-line dot assay (MLDA) employing phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylinositol (PI), cardiolipin (CL), and beta2-glycoprotein I (β2 GPI) was used to detect aPL, immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM) in 85 APS patients, 65 disease controls, and 79 blood donors. For comparison, anti-CL and anti-β2 GPI IgG and IgM were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Results
The level of agreement of both methods was good for anti-CL IgG, moderate for anti-CL IgM, very good for anti-β2 GPI IgG, and moderate for anti-β2 GPI IgM (kappa = 0.641, 0.507, 0.803 and 0.506, respectively). The frequency of observed discrepancies for anti-CL IgG (1.75%), anti-CL IgM (3.93%), anti-β2 GPI IgG (1.75%), and anti-β2 GPI IgM (0.87%) was low (McNemar test, P < 0.05, not-significant, respectively). Sensitivity, specificity, positive (+LR) and negative (-LR) likelihood ratios for at least one positive aPL antibody assessed by ELISA were 58.8%, 95.8%, 14.1, and 0.4, respectively, and for at least three positive aPl IgM and/or one positive aPL IgG by MLDA were 67.1%, 96.5%, 19.3, and 0.3, respectively. The frequency of IgM to PI, PS and CL, and combination of three or more aPL IgM detected by MLDA was significantly higher in APS patients with cerebral transient ischemia (P < 0.05, respectively).
Conclusions
The novel MLDA is a readily available, single-step, sensitive diagnostic tool for the multiplex detection of aPL antibodies in APS and a potential alternative for single aPL antibody testing by ELISA.
doi:10.1186/ar3421
PMCID: PMC3239356  PMID: 21777436
9.  Kitasato symposium 2010: new prospects for cytokines 
The Second Kitasato Symposium: New Prospects for Cytokines brought together researchers and rheumatologists to consider the essential role of cytokines in health and their contributions to autoimmunity. Topics addressed during the Symposium - which was held in Berlin, Germany from 27 to 29 May 2010 - included established and new cytokine targets in arthritis and autoimmunity and innovative aspects of osteoimmunology as well as current perspectives from translational and clinical studies. The keynote lecture, delivered by George Kollias, focused on insights gained from animal models into the mechanisms of TNF function in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. The presentations at the Symposium resulted in productive discussions regarding potential new targets for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.
doi:10.1186/ar3196
PMCID: PMC3046527  PMID: 21235827
10.  Safety and clinical outcomes of rituximab therapy in patients with different autoimmune diseases: experience from a national registry (GRAID) 
Introduction
Evidence from a number of open-label, uncontrolled studies has suggested that rituximab may benefit patients with autoimmune diseases who are refractory to standard-of-care. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and clinical outcomes of rituximab in several standard-of-care-refractory autoimmune diseases (within rheumatology, nephrology, dermatology and neurology) other than rheumatoid arthritis or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a real-life clinical setting.
Methods
Patients who received rituximab having shown an inadequate response to standard-of-care had their safety and clinical outcomes data retrospectively analysed as part of the German Registry of Autoimmune Diseases. The main outcome measures were safety and clinical response, as judged at the discretion of the investigators.
Results
A total of 370 patients (299 patient-years) with various autoimmune diseases (23.0% with systemic lupus erythematosus, 15.7% antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated granulomatous vasculitides, 15.1% multiple sclerosis and 10.0% pemphigus) from 42 centres received a mean dose of 2,440 mg of rituximab over a median (range) of 194 (180 to 1,407) days. The overall rate of serious infections was 5.3 per 100 patient-years during rituximab therapy. Opportunistic infections were infrequent across the whole study population, and mostly occurred in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. There were 11 deaths (3.0% of patients) after rituximab treatment (mean 11.6 months after first infusion, range 0.8 to 31.3 months), with most of the deaths caused by infections. Overall (n = 293), 13.3% of patients showed no response, 45.1% showed a partial response and 41.6% showed a complete response. Responses were also reflected by reduced use of glucocorticoids and various immunosuppressives during rituximab therapy and follow-up compared with before rituximab. Rituximab generally had a positive effect on patient well-being (physician's visual analogue scale; mean improvement from baseline of 12.1 mm).
Conclusions
Data from this registry indicate that rituximab is a commonly employed, well-tolerated therapy with potential beneficial effects in standard of care-refractory autoimmune diseases, and support the results from other open-label, uncontrolled studies.
doi:10.1186/ar3337
PMCID: PMC3218885  PMID: 21569519
11.  Epratuzumab targeting of CD22 affects adhesion molecule expression and migration of B-cells in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(6):R204.
Introduction
Epratuzumab, a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody, is under investigation as a therapeutic antibody in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but its mechanism of action on B-cells remains elusive. Treatment of SLE patients with epratuzumab leads to a reduction of circulating CD27negative B-cells, although epratuzumab is weakly cytotoxic to B-cells in vitro. Therefore, potential effects of epratuzumab on adhesion molecule expression and the migration of B-cells have been evaluated.
Methods
Epratuzumab binding specificity and the surface expression of adhesion molecules (CD62L, β7 integrin and β1 integrin) after culture with epratuzumab was studied on B-cell subsets of SLE patients by flow cytometry. In addition, in vitro transwell migration assays were performed to analyze the effects of epratuzumab on migration towards different chemokines such as CXCL12, CXCL13 or to CXCR3 ligands, and to assess the functional consequences of altered adhesion molecule expression.
Results
Epratuzumab binding was considerably higher on B-cells relative to other cell types assessed. No binding of epratuzumab was observed on T-cells, while weak non-specific binding of epratuzumab on monocytes was noted. On B-cells, binding of epratuzumab was particularly enhanced on CD27negative B-cells compared to CD27positive B-cells, primarily related to a higher expression of CD22 on CD27negative B-cells. Moreover, epratuzumab binding led to a decrease in the cell surface expression of CD62L and β7 integrin, while the expression of β1 integrin was enhanced. The effects on the pattern of adhesion molecule expression observed with epratuzumab were principally confined to a fraction of the CD27negative B-cell subpopulation and were associated with enhanced spontaneous migration of B-cells. Furthermore, epratuzumab also enhanced the migration of CD27negative B-cells towards the chemokine CXCL12.
Conclusions
The current data suggest that epratuzumab has effects on the expression of the adhesion molecules CD62L, β7 integrin and β1 integrin as well as on migration towards CXCL12, primarily of CD27negative B-cells. Therefore, induced changes in migration appear to be part of the mechanism of action of epratuzumab and are consistent with the observation that CD27negative B-cells were found to be preferentially reduced in the peripheral blood under treatment.
doi:10.1186/ar3179
PMCID: PMC3046510  PMID: 21050432
12.  B cells in autoimmunity 
B-cell development is tightly regulated, including the induction of B-cell memory and antibody-secreting plasmablasts and plasma cells. In the last decade, we have expanded our understanding of effector functions of B cells as well as their roles in human autoimmune diseases. The current review addresses the role of certain stages of B-cell development as well as plasmablasts/plasma cells in immune regulation under normal and autoimmune conditions with particular emphasis on systemic lupus erythematosus. Based on preclinical and clinical data, B cells have emerged increasingly as both effector cells as well as cells with immunoregulatory potential.
doi:10.1186/ar2780
PMCID: PMC2787254  PMID: 19849820
13.  Kitasato Symposium 2009: New Prospects for Cytokine Inhibition 
The Kitasato Symposium 2009: New Prospects for Cytokine Inhibition was held in Berlin, Germany from 7 to 9 May 2009. The key aims of this meeting were to bring together a group of front-line researchers and rheumatologists to evaluate the use of cytokine blockade and to examine the role of certain cytokines in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. A keynote lecture delivered by Professor Jean-Michel Dayer provided an up-to-date overview of the interactions occurring between the immune system and acute phase proteins. Other speakers discussed the role of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis, including their role in joint destruction, as well as their regulatory role upon T cells and B cells. The involvement of cytokines in other autoimmune diseases was also addressed.
doi:10.1186/ar2857
PMCID: PMC3003512  PMID: 20067593
14.  Biomarkers as tools for improved diagnostic and therapeutic monitoring in systemic lupus erythematosis 
One of the major challenges in rheumatology is to overcome the classification criteria that previously defined systemic lupus erythematosis, since the heterogeneity of the disease(s) appears to represent a complexity that probably substantially contributed to the failure of a number of recent trials. For those engaged in clinical trials, validated disease activity biomarkers that respond rapidly to treatment and are predictive of clinical response would greatly facilitate early decision-making around futility and dose selection. Likewise, use of validated patient stratification biomarkers possibly in conjunction with autoantibody profiles and disease manifestations will result in the recruitment of more homogeneous patient populations during later stage clinical studies, thereby decreasing size, costs, and risks in pivotal studies.
doi:10.1186/ar2834
PMCID: PMC3003542  PMID: 19939293
16.  Vasculitis: mechanisms involved and clinical manifestations 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2007;9(Suppl 2):S9.
Systemic vasculitis, an inflammatory necrotizing disease of the blood vessel walls, can occur secondary to autoimmune diseases, including connective tissue diseases. Various pathogenic mechanisms have been implicated in the induction of vasculitis, including cell-mediated inflammation, immune complex-mediated inflammation and autoantibody-mediated inflammation. This inflammatory activity is believed to contribute to accelerated atherosclerosis, and also leads to increased risk for cardiovascular events in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Endothelial cell activation is a common pathogenic pathway in the systemic vasculitis associated with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, with elevated levels of endothelin-1 potentially inducing vascular dysregulation.
doi:10.1186/ar2193
PMCID: PMC2072881  PMID: 17767747
17.  B cells in Sjögren's syndrome: indications for disturbed selection and differentiation in ectopic lymphoid tissue 
Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by specific pathological features. A hallmark of pSS is B-cell hyperactivity as manifested by the production of autoantibodies, hypergammaglobulinemia, formation of ectopic lymphoid structures within the inflamed tissues, and enhanced risk of B-cell lymphoma. Changes in the distribution of peripheral B-cell subsets and differences in post-recombination processes of immunoglobulin variable region (IgV) gene usage are also characteristic features of pSS. Comparison of B cells from the peripheral blood and salivary glands of patients with pSS with regard to their expression of the chemokine receptors CXCR4 and CXCR5, and their migratory capacity towards the corresponding ligands, CXCL12 and CXCL13, provide a mechanism for the prominent accumulation of CXCR4+CXCR5+ memory B cells in the inflamed glands. Glandular B cells expressing distinct features of IgV light and heavy chain rearrangements, (re)circulating B cells with increased mutations of cμ transcripts in both CD27- and CD27+ memory B-cell subsets, and enhanced frequencies of individual peripheral B cells containing IgV heavy chain transcripts of multiple isotypes indicate disordered selection and incomplete differentiation processes of B cells in the inflamed tissues in pSS. This may possibly be related to a lack of appropriate censoring mechanisms or different B-cell activation pathways within the ectopic lymphoid structures of the inflamed tissues. These findings add to our understanding of the pathogenesis of this autoimmune inflammatory disorder and may result in new therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1186/ar2210
PMCID: PMC2206371  PMID: 17697366
18.  Developments in lupus 2006 
Published reports in 2006 on systemic lupus erythematosus are reviewed with regard to preclinical and clinical studies on disturbances of the immune system including co-stimulation, cytokines and recent insights into new therapeutic approaches. Increasing knowledge of components of the innate immune system, such as certain receptors (Toll-like receptors, Fc receptors and complement receptors) and cytokines as well as immune cells (dendritic cells, plasmacytoid cells and neutrophils) supports their immunopathogenic relevance and enhance our understanding of the pathogenic complexity of lupus. Although it remains to be shown which of those could be targets for therapy or biomarkers, lymphocyte-directed therapy is currently under promising clinical investigation.
doi:10.1186/ar2183
PMCID: PMC2206361  PMID: 17634152
19.  Initial clinical trial of epratuzumab (humanized anti-CD22 antibody) for immunotherapy of systemic lupus erythematosus 
B cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), so the safety and activity of anti-B cell immunotherapy with the humanized anti-CD22 antibody epratuzumab was evaluated in SLE patients. An open-label, single-center study of 14 patients with moderately active SLE (total British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score 6 to 12) was conducted. Patients received 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab intravenously every 2 weeks for 4 doses with analgesic/antihistamine premedication (but no steroids) prior to each dose. Evaluations at 6, 10, 18 and 32 weeks (6 months post-treatment) follow-up included safety, SLE activity (BILAG score), blood levels of epratuzumab, B and T cells, immunoglobulins, and human anti-epratuzumab antibody (HAHA) titers. Total BILAG scores decreased by ≥ 50% in all 14 patients at some point during the study (including 77% with a ≥ 50% decrease at 6 weeks), with 92% having decreases of various amounts continuing to at least 18 weeks (where 38% showed a ≥ 50% decrease). Almost all patients (93%) experienced improvements in at least one BILAG B- or C-level disease activity at 6, 10 and 18 weeks. Additionally, 3 patients with multiple BILAG B involvement at baseline had completely resolved all B-level disease activities by 18 weeks. Epratuzumab was well tolerated, with a median infusion time of 32 minutes. Drug serum levels were measurable for at least 4 weeks post-treatment and detectable in most samples at 18 weeks. B cell levels decreased by an average of 35% at 18 weeks and remained depressed at 6 months post-treatment. Changes in routine safety laboratory tests were infrequent and without any consistent pattern, and there was no evidence of immunogenicity or significant changes in T cells, immunoglobulins, or autoantibody levels. In patients with mild to moderate active lupus, 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab was well tolerated, with evidence of clinical improvement after the first infusion and durable clinical benefit across most body systems. As such, multicenter controlled studies are being conducted in broader patient populations.
doi:10.1186/ar1942
PMCID: PMC1526638  PMID: 16630358
20.  Detailed analysis of the variability of peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 in German patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a case–control study 
Peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 (PADI4) genotypes were shown to influence susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the Japanese population. Such an association could not previously be confirmed in different European populations. In the present study, we analysed exons 2–4 of PADI4 in 102 German RA patients and 102 healthy individuals to study the influence of PADI4 variability on RA susceptibility by means of haplotype-specific DNA sequencing. Analyses of the influence of PADI4 and HLA-DRB1 genotypes on disease activity and on levels of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies were performed.
Comparing the frequencies of PADI4 haplotype 4 (padi4_89*G, padi4_90*T, padi4_92*G, padi4_94*T, padi4_104*C, padi4_95*G, padi4_96*T) (patients, 14.7%; controls, 7.8%; odds ratio = 2.0, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–3.8) and carriers of this haplotype (patients, 27.5%; controls, 13.7%; odds ratio = 2.4, 95% confidence interval = 1.2–4.8), a significant positive association of PADI4 haplotype 4 with RA could be demonstrated. Other PADI4 haplotypes did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Regarding the individual PADI4 variants, padi4_89 (A→G), padi4_90 (C→T), and padi4_94 (C→T) were significantly associated with RA (patients, 49.5%; controls, 38.7%; odds ratio = 1.6, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–2.3). Considering novel PADI4 variants located in or near to exons 2, 3, and 4, no quantitative or qualitative differences between RA patients (8.8%) and healthy controls (10.8%) could be demonstrated. While the PADI4 genotype did not influence disease activity and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody level, the presence of the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope was significantly associated with higher anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody levels (P = 0.033).
The results of this small case–control study support the hypothesis that variability of the PADI4 gene may influence susceptibility to RA in the German population. Quantitative or qualitative differences in previously undefined PADI4 variants between patients and controls could not be demonstrated.
doi:10.1186/ar1889
PMCID: PMC1526594  PMID: 16469113
21.  Differential expression of chemokine receptors on peripheral blood B cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(5):R1001-R1013.
Chemokines and their receptors are essential in the recruitment and positioning of lymphocytes. To address the question of B cell migration into the inflamed synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), peripheral blood naive B cells, memory B cells and plasma cells were analyzed for cell surface expression of the chemokine receptors CXCR3, CXCR4, CXCR5, CCR5, CCR6, CCR7 and CCR9. For comparison, B cells in the peripheral blood of patients with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or with the degenerative disease osteoarthritis (OA) were analyzed. Expression levels of chemokine receptors were measured by flow cytometry and were compared between the different patient groups and healthy individuals. The analysis of chemokine receptor expression showed that the majority of peripheral blood B cells is positive for CXCR3, CXCR4, CXCR5, CCR6 and CCR7. Whereas a small fraction of B cells were positive for CCR5, practically no expression of CCR9 was found. In comparison with healthy individuals, in patients with RA a significant fraction of B cells showed a decreased expression of CXCR5 and CCR6 and increased levels of CXCR3. The downregulation of CXCR5 correlated with an upregulation of CXCR3. In patients with SLE, significant changes in CXCR5 expression were seen. The functionality of the chemokine receptors CXCR3 and CXCR4 was demonstrated by transmigration assays with the chemokines CXCL10 and CXCL12, respectively. Our results suggest that chronic inflammation leads to modulation of chemokine receptor expression on peripheral blood B cells. However, differences between patients with RA and patients with SLE point toward a disease-specific regulation of receptor expression. These differences may influence the migrational behavior of B cells.
doi:10.1186/ar1776
PMCID: PMC1257429  PMID: 16207316
22.  Regeneration of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain repertoire after transient B-cell depletion with an anti-CD20 antibody 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(4):R714-R724.
B-cell depletive therapies have beneficial effects in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, the role of B cells in the pathogenesis of the disease is not clear. In particular, it is not known how the regeneration of the B-cell repertoire takes place. Two patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were treated with rituximab, and the rearranged immunoglobulin heavy-chain genes (Ig-VH) were analysed to follow the B-cell regeneration. Patient A was treated with two courses of rituximab, and B-cell regeneration was followed over 27 months by analysing more than 680 Ig-VH sequences. Peripheral B-cell depletion lasted 7 months and 10 months, respectively, and each time was accompanied by a clinical improvement. Patient B received one treatment course. B-cell depletion lasted 5 months and was accompanied by a good clinical response. B cells regenerated well in both patients, and the repopulated B-cell repertoire was characterised by a polyclonal and diverse use of Ig-VH genes, as expected in adult individuals. During the early phase of B-cell regeneration we observed the expansion and recirculation of a highly mutated B-cell population. These cells expressed very different Ig-VH genes. They were class-switched and could be detected for a short period only. Patient A was followed long term, whereby some characteristic changes in the VH2 family as well as in specific mini-genes like VH3–23, VH 4–34 or VH 1–69 were observed. In addition, rituximab therapy resulted in the loss of clonal B cells for the whole period.
Our data show that therapeutic transient B-cell depletion by anti-CD20 antibodies results in the regeneration of a diverse and polyclonal heavy-chain repertoire. During the early phase of B-cell regeneration, highly mutated B cells recirculate for a short time period in both the patients analysed. The longitudinal observation of a single patient up to 27 months shows subtle intraindividual changes, which may indicate repertoire modulation.
doi:10.1186/ar1731
PMCID: PMC1175025  PMID: 15987473

Results 1-23 (23)