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Keywords:

  • autoimmunity;
  • B cells;
  • CIDP;
  • co-stimulatory molecules;
  • Guillain–Barré syndrome

Summary

Spontaneous autoimmune polyneuropathy (SAP) in B7-2 knock-out non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice is mediated by myelin protein zero (P0)-reactive T helper type 1 (Th1) cells. In this study, we investigated the role of B cells in SAP, focusing on CD19 as a potential therapeutic target. We found that P0-specific plasmablasts and B cells were increased in spleens of SAP mice compared to wild-type NOD mice. Depletion of B cells and plasmablasts with anti-CD19 monoclonal antibody (mAb) led to attenuation of disease severity when administered at 5 months of age. This was accompanied by decreased serum immunoglobulin (Ig)G and IgM levels, depletion of P0-specific plasmablasts and B cells, down-regulation/internalization of surface CD19 and increased frequency of CD4+ regulatory T cells in spleens. We conclude that B cells are crucial to the pathogenesis of SAP, and that CD19 is a promising B cell target for the development of disease-modifying agents in autoimmune neuropathies.