The role of B cells and autoantibodies in multiple sclerosis

Ann Neurol. 2000 Jun;47(6):694-706.


A variety of cellular and humoral immunological abnormalities have been observed in multiple sclerosis (MS). In the past few years, several lines of evidence converged to imply an important role of autoreactive antibodies and B cells in the pathogenesis of MS. Recent data suggest that autoantibodies may be harmful in lesion formation but also potentially beneficial in repair. This review surveys recent advances in the concepts of generation and nature of pathogenetic autoantibodies, their potential modes of action, mechanisms of their long-term persistence, and the role of the inflamed brain tissue as a B-cell-supporting microenvironment in MS. Based on the presence of specific autoantibodies, it seems possible to define distinct MS subgroups in the near future. The therapeutic relevance of these new findings is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G