Molecular mechanisms of the antitumor effects of anti-CD20 antibodies

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011 Jan 1;16:277-306. doi: 10.2741/3688.


Anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have become the mainstay in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and have shown significant activity in patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Antitumor action of these antibodies results from triggering of indirect effector mechanisms of the immune system that include activation of complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC), antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), or phagocytosis. Moreover, some studies indicate direct influence of anti-CD20 mAbs on tumor cells that leads to induction of various types of cell death. Despite the wealth of data on the mechanisms of cytotoxicity that accumulated over the last two decades their relative contribution to the therapeutic outcome is still difficult to predict in individual patients. Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of anti-CD20 mAbs action is necessary to deliver their maximal activity in rationally designed combinations with other therapeutic approaches and to design next generation anti-CD20 mAb with improved ability to eliminate tumor cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / therapeutic use
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity / drug effects
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity / immunology
  • Antigens, CD20 / genetics
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology*
  • Antigens, CD20 / physiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Complement System Proteins / physiology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Constant Regions / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments / immunology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / genetics
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • Rituximab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Immunoglobulin Constant Regions
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments
  • Rituximab
  • Complement System Proteins