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This article is part of the supplement: Targeting B cells in autoimmune diseases

Highly Accessed Review

B cell depletion in autoimmune disease

Claire Gorman, Maria Leandro and David Isenberg*

Author Affiliations

Centre for Rheumatology, The Middlesex Hospital, University College London, UK

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Arthritis Res Ther 2003, 5(Suppl 4):S17-S21  doi:10.1186/ar1007

Published: 2 October 2003

Abstract

The CD20 cell marker appears early in the process of B cell development. In this review we focus on the results of attempts to utilize B cell depletion based on the use of a chimeric monoclonal antibody (MAb) specific for human CD20, rituximab, for the treatment of patients with autoimmune diseases. In 1997, rituximab was approved for the treatment of low-grade B cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Following these encouraging results, rituximab started to be used experimentally in other diseases presumed to be due to B cell pathology. The first autoimmune disease to be treated effectively was chronic idiopathic thrombocytopaenia. More recent success has been demonstrated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Keywords:
autoimmune disease; B cell depletion; rituximab