Rituximab treatment in rheumatoid arthritis: how does it work?

Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(6):134. doi: 10.1186/ar2852. Epub 2009 Nov 24.


Treatment with the chimerical monoclonal antibody rituximab results in CD20-directed B cell depletion. Although this depletion is almost complete in the peripheral blood of nearly all patients with rheumatoid arthritis, a proportion of patients does not exhibit a clinical response. The paper by Nakou and colleagues suggests that a decrease in CD19+CD27+ memory B cells in both peripheral blood and bone marrow precedes the clinical response to rituximab. This finding adds to the emerging evidence that lack of response to rituximab is associated with persistence of B lineage cells in specific body compartments.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / drug effects
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / drug effects
  • Rituximab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Rituximab