B cell alterations during BAFF inhibition with belimumab in SLE.

Ramsköld D, Parodis I, Lakshmikanth T, Sippl N, Khademi M, Chen Y, Zickert A, Mikeš J, Achour A, Amara K, Piehl F, Brodin P, Gunnarsson I, Malmström V

EBioMedicine - (-) - [2018-12-25; online 2018-12-25]

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease, which exhibits multiple B cell abnormalities including expanded populations of memory B cells and elevated levels of autoantibodies. Belimumab is a monoclonal antibody targeting the B cell cytokine BAFF (a.k.a. BLyS), approved for the treatment of SLE. In this prospective cohort study, B cells from peripheral blood of 23 SLE patients initiating belimumab treatment and followed longitudinally for up to three years, were assessed using mass cytometry. B cells decreased during the study period, with a rapid decrease of both naïve and CD11c +CD21- B cells at the first follow-up visit, followed by a continuous reduction at subsequent follow-ups. In contrast, plasma cells and switched memory B cells remained stable throughout the study. The observed immunological changes correlated with early, but not late, clinical improvements. Moreover, high baseline B cell counts were predictive of failure to attain low disease activity. In summary, our data unveiled both rapid and gradual later therapy-associated alterations of both known and unforeseen B cell phenotypes. Our results suggest that evaluation of B cell counts might prove useful prior to initiation of belimumab treatment and that early treatment evaluation and discontinuation might underestimate delayed clinical improvements resultant of late B cell changes.

Mass Cytometry [Service]

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PubMed 30593436

DOI 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.12.035

Crossref 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.12.035

S2352-3964(18)30612-1