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This article is part of the supplement: B cell targeted therapy: a new approach to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Highly Accessed Review

B cells in rheumatoid synovitis

Cornelia M Weyand*, Thorsten M Seyler and Jörg J Goronzy

Author Affiliations

Lowance Center for Human Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7(Suppl 3):S9-S12  doi:10.1186/ar1737

Published: 18 May 2005

Abstract

In rheumatoid arthritis, T cells, B cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells invade the synovial membranes, establishing complex microstructures that promote inflammatory/tissue destructive lesions. B cell involvement has been considered to be limited to autoantibody production. However, recent studies suggest that B cells support rheumatoid disease through other mechanisms. A critical element of rheumatoid synovitis is the process of ectopic lymphoid neogenesis, with highly efficient lymphoid architectures established in a nonlymphoid tissue site. Rheumatoid synovitis recapitulates the pathways of lymph node formation, and B cells play a key role in this process. Furthermore, studies of rheumatoid lesions implanted in immunodeficient mice suggest that T cell activation in synovitis is B cell dependent, indicating the role played by B cells in presenting antigens and providing survival signals.