Monitoring anti-B cell immunotherapies in autoimmune diseases: Go with the flow. A Position Paper of the Italian Society for Clinical Cell Analysis (ISCCA)

  • Bruno Brando | bruno.brando@asst-ovestmi.it Hematology Laboratory and Transfusion Center, Legnano (MI), Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9163-1515
  • Arianna Gatti Hematology Laboratory and Transfusion Center, Legnano (MI), Italy.
  • Alfredo Maria Lurati Rheumatology Unit, Western Milan Area Hospital Consortium, Legnano (MI), Italy.
  • Paola M.L. Faggioli Rheumatology Unit, Western Milan Area Hospital Consortium, Legnano (MI), Italy.

Abstract

During the past decades autoimmune diseases have been usually treated with immunosuppressive drugs mostly active on T-Cell mediated responses. Only in recent years, with our extended knowledge of the pathogenic mechanisms of autoreactive disorders and the tremendous development of new therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, anti-B-Cell therapies have emerged as a new option for treating autoimmune diseases. The rationale for this changeover from T-Cell to B-Cell targeted therapies resides in the recently accumulated evidence of the role of B-Cells in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and in the generation of tissue damage. Targeting memory and effector BCells may then disrupt the production of pathogenic antibodies, counteract the role of B-Cells in sustaining antigen presentation to T-Cells and block the synthesis of B-Cell activation cytokines. The anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody Rituximab was first introduced more than 20 years ago for the treatment of CD20+ chronic B-lymphoproliferative disorders, and was then successfully experimented in the treatment of an ever-increasing spectrum of autoimmune diseases. Newer anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies have been introduced more recently, which vary in their biological effects. The need for laboratory indicators that may help the rational usage and follow-up of anti-CD20 treatments has now emerged, due to the high variability of individual response, to the markedly different outcomes in the various diseases and to the controversial role of pathogenic autoantibodies as indicators of disease activity. Flow cytometric (FCM) analyses to identify and enumerate the B-cell functional subsets in the peripheral blood have been developed in recent years. They can be used to assess the degree and the persistence of memory B-Cell depletion, the quality and the timing of B-Cell reconstitution, along with the highly sensitive FCM counting technique needed for the detection of extremely low cell levels. The long-term aim of this innovative approach is to provide clinicians with a tool for a safer and more rational usage of anti-CD20 agents.

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Published
2019-12-23
Section
Reviews
Keywords:
B-cells, B-cell ontogeny, monoclonal antibodies, flow cytometry, rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, systemic sclerosis.
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How to Cite
Brando, B., Gatti, A., Lurati, A. M., & Faggioli, P. M. (2019). Monitoring anti-B cell immunotherapies in autoimmune diseases: Go with the flow. A Position Paper of the Italian Society for Clinical Cell Analysis (ISCCA). Beyond Rheumatology, 1(2), 52-62. https://doi.org/10.4081/br.2019.26