Serum BAFF and APRIL Levels, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, and Immunoglobulins after B-Cell Depletion Using the Monoclonal Anti-CD20 Antibody Rituximab in Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
ABSTRACT: Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a disease of unknown etiology. We have previously suggested clinical benefit from B-cell depletion using the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab in a randomized and placebo-controlled study. Prolonged responses were then demonstrated in an open-label phase-II study with maintenance rituximab treatment. Using blood samples from patients in the previous two clinical trials, we investigated quantitative changes in T-lymphocyte subsets, in immunoglobulins, and in serum levels of two B-cell regulating cytokines during follow-up. B-lymphocyte activating factor of the tumor necrosis family (BAFF) in baseline serum samples was elevated in 70 ME/CFS patients as compared to 56 healthy controls (p = 0.011). There were no significant differences in baseline serum BAFF levels between patients with mild, moderate, or severe ME/CFS, or between responders and non-responders to rituximab. A proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) serum levels were not significantly different in ME/CFS patients compared to healthy controls at baseline, and no changes in serum levels were seen during follow-up. Immunophenotyping of peripheral blood T-lymphocyte subsets and T-cell activation markers at multiple time points during follow-up showed no significant differences over time, between rituximab and placebo groups, or between responders and non-responders to rituximab. Baseline serum IgG levels were significantly lower in patients with subsequent response after rituximab therapy compared to non-responders (p = 0.03). In the maintenance study, slight but significant reductions in mean serum immunoglobulin levels were observed at 24 months compared to baseline; IgG 10.6-9.5 g/L, IgA 1.8-1.5 g/L, and IgM 0.97-0.70 g/L. Although no functional assays were performed, the lack of significant associations of T- and NK-cell subset numbers with B-cell depletion, as well as the lack of associations to clinical responses, suggest that B-cell regulatory effects on T-cell or NK-cell subsets are not the main mechanisms for the observed improvements in ME/CFS symptoms observed in the two previous trials. The modest increase in serum BAFF levels at baseline may indicate an activated B-lymphocyte system in a subgroup of ME/CFS patients.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: The prediction of therapeutic response to rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis is desirable. We evaluated whether analysis of B lymphocyte subsets by flow cytometry would be useful to identify non-responders to rituximab ahead of time. METHODS: Fifty-two patients with active rheumatoid arthritis despite therapy with TNF-inhibitors were included in the national rituximab registry. DAS28 was determined before and 24 weeks after rituximab application. B cell subsets were analyzed by high-sensitive flow cytometry before and 2 weeks after rituximab administration. Complete depletion of B cells was defined as CD19-values below 0.0001 x10? cells/liter. RESULTS: At 6 months 19 patients had a good (37%), 23 a moderate (44%) and 10 (19%) had no EULAR-response. The extent of B lymphocyte depletion in peripheral blood did not predict the success of rituximab therapy. Incomplete depletion was found at almost the same frequency in EULAR responders and non-responders. In comparison to healthy controls, non-responders had elevated baseline CD95? pre-switch B cells, whereas responders had a lower frequency of plasmablasts. CONCLUSIONS: The baseline enumeration of B lymphocyte subsets is still of limited clinical value for the prediction of response to anti-CD20 therapy. However, differences at the level of CD95? pre switch B cells or plasmablasts were noticed with regard to treatment response. The criterion of complete depletion of peripheral B cells after rituximab administration did not predict the success of this therapy in rheumatoid arthritis.
Project description:To study the safety and clinical efficacy of rituximab therapy for primary Sjögren's syndrome, as well as to investigate its mechanisms.Patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome were enrolled in an open-label trial, were given rituximab (1 gm) infusions on days 1 and 15, and were monitored through week 52. The primary end point was safety, with secondary end points evaluating clinical and biologic efficacy. Blood was obtained for enumeration of lymphocyte subsets, measurement of serum autoantibody and BAFF levels, and analysis of gene expression.Twelve female patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome were administered rituximab. They had a median age of 51 years (range 34-69 years) and a median disease duration of 8.0 years (range 2-18 years). We observed no unexpected toxicities from the rituximab therapy. Modest improvements were observed at week 26 in patient-reported symptoms of fatigue and oral dryness, with no significant improvement in the objective measures of lacrimal and salivary gland function. The recovery of blood B cells following the nadir from rituximab therapy was characterized by a predominance of transitional B cells and a lack of memory B cells. While blood B cell depletion was associated with an increase in serum BAFF levels, no significant changes were observed in the levels of serum anti-Ro/SSA, anti-La/SSB, and anti-type 3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor autoantibodies or in the blood interferon signature.In patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome, a single treatment course of rituximab was not associated with any unexpected toxicities and led to only modest clinical benefits despite effective depletion of blood B cells.
Project description:Type 1 diabetes mellitus is believed to be due to the autoimmune destruction of ?-cells by T lymphocytes, but a single course of rituximab, a monoclonal anti-CD20 B lymphocyte Ab, can attenuate C-peptide loss over the first year of disease. The effects of B cell depletion on disease-associated T cell responses have not been studied. We compare changes in lymphocyte subsets, T cell proliferative responses to disease-associated target Ags, and C-peptide levels of participants who did (responders) or did not (nonresponders) show signs of ?-cell preservation 1 y after rituximab therapy in a placebo-controlled TrialNet trial. Rituximab decreased B lymphocyte levels after four weekly doses of mAb. T cell proliferative responses to diabetes-associated Ags were present at baseline in 75% of anti-CD20- and 82% of placebo-treated subjects and were not different over time. However, in rituximab-treated subjects with significant C-peptide preservation at 6 mo (58%), the proliferative responses to diabetes-associated total (p = 0.032), islet-specific (p = 0.048), and neuronal autoantigens (p = 0.005) increased over the 12-mo observation period. This relationship was not seen in placebo-treated patients. We conclude that in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, anti-B cell mAb causes increased proliferative responses to diabetes Ags and attenuated ?-cell loss. The way in which these responses affect the disease course remains unknown.
Project description:Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disease of unknown aetiology. Major CFS symptom relief during cancer chemotherapy in a patient with synchronous CFS and lymphoma spurred a pilot study of B-lymphocyte depletion using the anti-CD20 antibody Rituximab, which demonstrated significant clinical response in three CFS patients.In this double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II study (NCT00848692), 30 CFS patients were randomised to either Rituximab 500 mg/m(2) or saline, given twice two weeks apart, with follow-up for 12 months. Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) was not detected in any of the patients. The responses generally affected all CFS symptoms. Major or moderate overall response, defined as lasting improvements in self-reported Fatigue score during follow-up, was seen in 10 out of 15 patients (67%) in the Rituximab group and in two out of 15 patients (13%) in the Placebo group (p?=?0.003). Mean response duration within the follow-up period for the 10 responders to Rituximab was 25 weeks (range 8-44). Four Rituximab patients had clinical response durations past the study period. General linear models for repeated measures of Fatigue scores during follow-up showed a significant interaction between time and intervention group (p?=?0.018 for self-reported, and p?=?0.024 for physician-assessed), with differences between the Rituximab and Placebo groups between 6-10 months after intervention. The primary end-point, defined as effect on self-reported Fatigue score 3 months after intervention, was negative. There were no serious adverse events. Two patients in the Rituximab group with pre-existing psoriasis experienced moderate psoriasis worsening.The delayed responses starting from 2-7 months after Rituximab treatment, in spite of rapid B-cell depletion, suggests that CFS is an autoimmune disease and may be consistent with the gradual elimination of autoantibodies preceding clinical responses. The present findings will impact future research efforts in CFS.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00848692.
Project description:In this study, we sought to address changes in blood lymphocyte subpopulations and labial salivary gland (LSG) inflammation after belimumab treatment in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and to identify predictors of response to treatment.Sequential blood lymphocyte subsets and LSG biopsies were analysed between week 0 (W0) and W28 in 15 patients with pSS treated with belimumab. Systemic response to treatment was defined as a decrease in the European League Against Rheumatism Sjögren's Syndrome Disease Activity Index score of ?3 points at W28.After belimumab, we observed a decrease in blood B lymphocytes primarily involving CD27-negative/immunoglobulin D-positive naïve B cells (p=0.008). Lymphocytic sialadenitis (focus score >1) that was present in 12 patients (80.0 %) before belimumab treatment became negative in 5 of them after treatment (p=0.03). The median (interquartile range) LSG B-cell/T-cell ratio decreased from 0.58 (0.5-0.67) to 0.50 (0.5-0.5) (p=0.06). B-cell activating factor (BAFF) staining was detected in 11 (78.6 %) of 14 patients before belimumab treatment compared with 7 (50.0 %) of 14 after belimumab therapy (p=0.10). The median percentage of BAFF-positive cells in foci significantly decreased from 27.5 % (10-40) to 5 % (0-20) (p=0.03). A systemic response was achieved in six patients (40 %). The only predictor of response was the presence of a low number of natural killer (NK) cells, both in blood (8.5 % [7-10] vs 11 % [9-21]; p=0.04) and in LSG (20.6/mm(3) [20.0-21.4] vs 30.0/mm(3) [25.0-100.0], p=0.003). Serum BAFF levels did not influence response to treatment.Low blood and salivary NK cell numbers are associated with a better response to belimumab. This suggests that two distinct subsets of pSS may exist: one with a predominant type I interferon (IFN)-BAFF-B-cell axis, representing good responders to belimumab; and one with a predominant type II IFN-NK cell axis, representing non-responders.ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01160666 . Registered 9 July 2010.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a disease of unknown etiology. We previously reported a pilot case series followed by a small, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II study, suggesting that B-cell depletion using the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab can yield clinical benefit in ME/CFS.<h4>Methods</h4>In this single-center, open-label, one-armed phase II study (NCT01156909), 29 patients were included for treatment with rituximab (500 mg/m2) two infusions two weeks apart, followed by maintenance rituximab infusions after 3, 6, 10 and 15 months, and with follow-up for 36 months.<h4>Findings</h4>Major or moderate responses, predefined as lasting improvements in self-reported Fatigue score, were detected in 18 out of 29 patients (intention to treat). Clinically significant responses were seen in 18 out of 28 patients (64%) receiving rituximab maintenance treatment. For these 18 patients, the mean response durations within the 156 weeks study period were 105 weeks in 14 major responders, and 69 weeks in four moderate responders. At end of follow-up (36 months), 11 out of 18 responding patients were still in ongoing clinical remission. For major responders, the mean lag time from first rituximab infusion until start of clinical response was 23 weeks (range 8-66). Among the nine patients from the placebo group in the previous randomized study with no significant improvement during 12 months follow-up after saline infusions, six achieved a clinical response before 12 months after rituximab maintenance infusions in the present study. Two patients had an allergic reaction to rituximab and two had an episode of uncomplicated late-onset neutropenia. Eight patients experienced one or more transient symptom flares after rituximab infusions. There was no unexpected toxicity.<h4>Conclusion</h4>In a subgroup of ME/CFS patients, prolonged B-cell depletion with rituximab maintenance infusions was associated with sustained clinical responses. The observed patterns of delayed responses and relapse after B-cell depletion and regeneration, a three times higher disease prevalence in women than in men, and a previously demonstrated increase in B-cell lymphoma risk for elderly ME/CFS patients, suggest that ME/CFS may be a variant of an autoimmune disease.<h4>Trial registration</h4>ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01156909.
Project description:The causes and mechanisms of late-onset neutropenia (LON) following rituximab treatment in patients with rheumatic diseases are not known. In this study, we aimed to investigate the role of established Fc? receptor gene (FCGR) polymorphisms and B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) gene promoter polymorphisms for the development of LON and for the efficacy of rituximab in patients with rheumatic diseases.A single-center case-control retrospective study was nested in a cohort of 214 consecutive patients with rheumatic diseases treated with rituximab. Eleven patients presented with LON. Fifty non-LON control subjects were matched by diagnosis, age, sex, and treatments. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms of FCGR (FCGR2A 131H/R, FCGR2B 232I/T, FCGR3A 158V/F) and BAFF promoter polymorphism -871C/T were analyzed with polymerase chain reaction-based techniques, and serum immunoglobulin M (IgM) and BAFF levels were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Flare-free survival was related to LON occurrence and polymorphisms.The FCGR3A V allele, but not other FCGR polymorphisms, correlated with the occurrence of LON; each V allele conferred a fourfold increased OR for LON (p?=?0.017). FCGR3A 158V/V and presentation with LON were associated with a longer flare-free survival (p?=?0.023 and p?=?0.031, respectively). FCGR3A 158V/V was related to lower IgM levels (p?=?0.016). Serum BAFF levels showed no relationship with LON and BAFF -871C/T promoter polymorphism. There was a tendency toward longer flare-free survival in patients with the BAFF -871T/T allotype compared with the C/T or C/C allotypes (p?=?0.096).The results of the present study suggest that presentation with LON may be a result of the intrinsic efficacy of rituximab in patients with rheumatic diseases. LON could indicate a longer biological and therapeutic activity of rituximab modulated by a certain genotypic polymorphism: the high-affinity FCGR3A V allele. This genotype and the occurrence of LON are both related to longer flare-free survival, suggestive of common mechanisms for LON and duration of response to rituximab. The role of the BAFF -871C/T promoter polymorphism in LON occurrence is unclear.
Project description:Rituximab (RTX) for immune-mediated inflammatory disease (IMID) with interstitial pneumonitis (IP) results in non-response in about a third of patients for reasons not well understood. Complete peripheral B-cell depletion in IMID-IP does not seem to correlate with successful treatment outcome. A hypothesis is that splenic B cells might play a role in B-cell recovery and attraction of naïve B cells in non-responsive patients. The aim of this post hoc analysis of clinical trial data is to search for indicators in [89Zr]Zr-rituximab PET/CT data from the spleen that might explain non-responsiveness. PET/CT data of 20 patients with IMID-IP, who were enrolled in a phase II trial and treated with RTX were analyzed. Clinical outcome was categorized into responders (RSP) and non-responders (NR) after 6 months of initial RTX by two independent pulmonologists. Patients were examined separately to search for associations between clinical outcome, splenic activity on PET/CT, lymphocyte counts and other biomarkers. Treatment failure was found in 6/20 patients (30%) while all patients exhibited B-cell depletion from the circulation. NR patients demonstrated significantly higher splenic activity than RSP patients (non-preload protocol: SUV 4.9±1.96 and SUV 2.3±1.08 respectively, P=0.025). No correlations between treatment outcome and serum lymphocyte subsets were found. Our findings suggest a potential splenic mechanism in IMID-IP patients non-responding to RTX and warrant further consideration and investigation.
Project description:To characterize B-cell subsets in patients with muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) myasthenia gravis (MG).In accordance with Human Immunology Project Consortium guidelines, we performed polychromatic flow cytometry and ELISA assays in peripheral blood samples from 18 patients with MuSK MG and 9 healthy controls. To complement a B-cell phenotype assay that evaluated maturational subsets, we measured B10 cell percentages, plasma B cell-activating factor (BAFF) levels, and MuSK antibody titers. Immunologic variables were compared with healthy controls and clinical outcome measures.As expected, patients treated with rituximab had high percentages of transitional B cells and plasmablasts and thus were excluded from subsequent analysis. The remaining patients with MuSK MG and controls had similar percentages of total B cells and naïve, memory, isotype-switched, plasmablast, and transitional B-cell subsets. However, patients with MuSK MG had higher BAFF levels and lower percentages of B10 cells. In addition, we observed an increase in MuSK antibody levels with more severe disease.We found prominent B-cell pathology in the distinct form of MG with MuSK autoantibodies. Increased BAFF levels have been described in other autoimmune diseases, including acetylcholine receptor antibody-positive MG. This finding suggests a role for BAFF in the survival of B cells in MuSK MG, which has important therapeutic implications. B10 cells, a recently described rare regulatory B-cell subset that potently blocks Th1 and Th17 responses, were reduced, which suggests a potential mechanism for the breakdown in immune tolerance in patients with MuSK MG.
Project description:Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) comprises several clinical entities with diverse clinical presentations, outcomes, and nonunifying pathogenesis. AAV has a clear potential for relapses, and shows unpredictable response to treatment. Cyclophosphamide-based therapies have remained the hallmark of induction therapy protocols for more than four decades. Recently, B-cell depleting therapy with the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab has proved beneficial in AAV, leading to Food and Drug Administration approval of rituximab in combination with corticosteroids for the treatment of AAV in adults. Rituximab for ANCA-associated vasculitis and other clinical trials provided clear evidence that rituximab was not inferior to cyclophosphamide for remission induction, and rituximab appeared even more beneficial in patients with relapsing disease. This raised hopes that other B-cell-targeted therapies directed either against CD19, CD20, CD22, or B-cell survival factors, B-cell activating factor of the tumor necrosis factor family (BAFF) and a proliferation-inducing ligand could also be beneficial for the management of AAV. BAFF neutralization with the fully humanized monoclonal antibody belimumab has already shown success in human systemic lupus erythematosus and, along with another anti-BAFF reagent blisibimod, is currently undergoing Phase II and III clinical trials in AAV. Local production of BAFF in granulomatous lesions and elevated levels of serum BAFF in AAV provide a rationale for BAFF-targeted therapies not only in AAV but also in other forms of vasculitis such as Behcet's disease, large-vessel vasculitis, or cryoglobulinemic vasculitis secondary to chronic hepatitis C infection. BAFF-targeted therapies have a very solid safety profile, and may have an additional benefit of preferentially targeting newly arising autoreactive B cells over non-self-reactive B cells.