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B-cell-targeted therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus: an update

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posted on 2023-05-26, 10:33 authored by Ding, C, Simon James FooteSimon James Foote, Jones, G
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a classic autoimmune disease characterized by a myriad of immune system aberrations, most likely resulting from pathogenic autoantibody production, immune complex deposition, and subsequent end-organ damage. B cells play a key role in the pathogenesis; therefore, B-cell-targeted therapies, including B-cell depletion and blockage of B-cell survival factors such as B-lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), are potential therapeutic targets for SLE. In uncontrolled clinical trials from approximately 20 studies, rituximab - a mouse-human chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody that effectively depletes B cells - has been demonstrated to reduce disease activity and decrease serum autoantibodies, with a clinical response of 86% in a case series of approximately 400 SLE patients with refractory disease, with or without concomitant use of cyclophosphamide. Epratuzumab, a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody that partially depletes B cells, has also been shown to reduce disease activity but not to decrease autoantibody levels in patients with moderately active SLE. Randomized controlled phase I/II trials in patients with active SLE have documented that belimumab, a humanized anti-BLyS monoclonal antibody, reduces B-cell numbers, inhibits disease activity and decreases anti-double-stranded DNA autoantibody in SLE patients. All these therapies are well tolerated, but accompanying infectious complications have been observed. Other B-cell-targeted therapies such as 'humanized' monoclonal antibodies to CD20 (e.g. ocrelizumab) and agents that interrupt B-cell/T-cell interactions also have potential, and the efficacy of these, along with rituximab, belimumab and epratuzumab, needs to be determined by randomized controlled trials.


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