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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Rituximab efficiently depletes increased CD20-expressing T cells in multiple sclerosis patients.


PMID 24928997

Abstract

In multiple sclerosis (MS), B cell-depleting therapy using monoclonal anti-CD20 Abs, including rituximab (RTX) and ocrelizumab, effectively reduces disease activity. Based on indirect evidence, it is generally believed that elimination of the Ag-presenting capabilities and Ag nonspecific immune functions of B cells underlie the therapeutic efficacy. However, a small subset of T lymphocytes (T cells) was shown to also express CD20, but controversy prevails surrounding the true existence of this T cell subpopulation. Using single-cell imaging flow cytometry and expression profiling of sorted lymphocyte subsets, we unequivocally demonstrate the existence of CD3(+)CD20(dim) T cells. We show that in MS patients, increased levels of CD3(+)CD20(dim) T cells are effectively depleted by RTX. The pathological relevance of this T cell subset in MS remains to be determined. However, given their potential proinflammatory functionality, depletion of CD20-expressing T cells may also contribute to the therapeutic effect of RTX and other mAbs targeting CD20.