Objective: To determine whether BAFF or combined BAFF/APRIL blockade is effective in a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) nephritis characterized by rapidly progressive glomerulosclerosis.
Methods: NZM2410 mice at early and late stages of SLE nephritis were treated with a short course of BAFF-R-Ig or TACI-Ig fusion protein. Proteinuria and serologic profile were evaluated every 2 weeks. Immunohistochemical, flow cytometric, and enzyme-linked immunospot analyses of the spleen, kidney, and bone marrow were performed after 8 weeks and after 33 weeks.
Results: A short course of selective blockade of BAFF alone was sufficient to prevent and treat SLE nephritis in NZM2410 mice, despite the formation of pathogenic autoantibodies. Decreases in spleen size and B cell depletion persisted for more than 33 weeks after treatment and resulted in secondary decreases in CD4 memory T cell formation and activation of splenic and peripheral monocytes. Immune complex deposition in the kidneys was dissociated from renal damage and from activation of renal endothelial and resident dendritic cells.
Conclusion: Selective blockade of BAFF alone, which resulted in B cell depletion and splenic collapse, was sufficient to prevent and treat the disease in this model of noninflammatory SLE nephritis. This shows that the inflammatory microenvironment may be a determinant of the outcome of B cell modulation strategies.