The role of B cells in rheumatoid arthritis: mechanisms and therapeutic targets

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2003 May;15(3):246-52. doi: 10.1097/00002281-200305000-00011.


Our understanding of the role of B cells as part of the immune system has been remarkably expanded in the past few years. Autoimmunity, the production of autoantibodies or the activation and expansion of autoimmune T cells, is relatively common, whereas the development of autoimmune diseases with destruction of tissue is much less frequent. In rheumatoid arthritis, the autoantigen(s) involved in tissue damage and their role in disease have not been fully elucidated. Recent data suggest that the impact of B cells in rheumatoid arthritis may be of significance; therefore, a depleting anti-B cell therapy appears to be another therapeutic strategy. This review will focus on recent findings of the role of B cells in rheumatoid arthritis and the implications to target B cells in this disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers