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Keywords:

  • B cells;
  • Epstein–Barr virus;
  • multiple sclerosis

Summary

OTHER ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN THIS MINI-REVIEW SERIES ON B CELL SUBSETS IN DISEASE

Transitional B cells in systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren's syndrome: clinical implications and effects of B cell-targeted therapies. Clinical and Experimental Immunology 2012, 167: 7–14. Reconstitution after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation – revelation of B cell developmental pathways and lineage phenotypes. Clinical and Experimental Immunology 2012, 167: 15–25.

The recent success of therapies directed at B cells has highlighted their potential as central players in multiple sclerosis (MS) pathogenesis. Exciting new data showed that B cell depletion led to reduced clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evidence of disease activity. However, the mechanisms of action remain unknown, but could involve autoantibody production, antigen presentation and/or cytokine production by B cells. Another exciting line of investigation in the field of MS comes from latent infection of memory B cells by Epstein–Barr virus (EBV). These cells are hijacked as ‘Trojan horses’ and ‘smuggle’ the virus into the central nervous system (CNS). Thus, these new anti B cell treatments will also be likely to have anti-viral effects. We briefly review recent findings in the field of MS pathogenesis, and highlight promising new targets for therapeutic intervention in MS.