B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) influences peripheral B-cell survival, maturation and immunoglobulin class-switch recombination and has a range of potential clinical implications. Biological functions of BAFF and its relevance in various clinical disorders including currently investigated BAFF-targeting therapies are reviewed and discussed based on PubMed search of relevant articles. Serum levels of BAFF are increased in autoimmune diseases including autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis where BAFF concentrations are related to titres of autoantibodies and disease progression. Increased BAFF levels are found in synovial, bronchoalveolar and gut lavage fluids, suggesting local class switching and immunoglobulin production. Clinical relevance and diagnostic potential of BAFF are also noted in patients with allergic diseases, malignancies and infections including hepatitis C virus. BAFF antagonists are promising new therapeutic agents, currently being tried in B-cell-related autoimmune diseases. Serum level of BAFF may indicate disease mechanisms and the degree of activity. Determination of BAFF in different body compartments like synovium, airways and gut may also have clinical implications. Results of ongoing clinical trials with BAFF antagonists are eagerly awaited.
© 2011 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.