Treatment with rituximab affects both the cellular and the humoral arm of the immune system in patients with SLE

Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;122(1):62-74. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2006.08.016. Epub 2006 Oct 13.


Herein we investigated how rituximab-induced B cell depletion affected leukocyte subpopulations and antibody titers in SLE patients. We focused our analysis on time points related to absence and return of B cells after depletion. A correlation was found between the baseline frequency and time to repopulation; the fewer B cells initially, the longer to their return. While the few B cells remaining after treatment were of memory, double-negative (IgD-CD27-), and CD5+ phenotype, the returning B cells were mainly naïve, indicating de novo production of B cells. Serum levels of IgG and antibodies against Ro52, Ro60, La44, measles and tetanus remained unchanged, while decreases in IgM, IgE, anti-dsDNA and anti-C1q antibodies were observed. Additionally, a significant increase in activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, as well as CD25bright FOXP3+ regulatory T cells was observed. In conclusion, both the humoral and the cellular immune systems were affected by treatment with rituximab.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Immunoglobulins / drug effects
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Rituximab
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Rituximab