B cells play a vital function in multiple sclerosis (MS) pathogenesis through an array of effector functions. All currently approved MS disease-modifying therapies alter the frequency, phenotype, or homing of B cells in one way or another. The importance of this mechanism of action has been reinforced with the successful development and clinical testing of B-cell-depleting monoclonal antibodies that target the CD20 surface antigen. Ocrelizumab, a humanized anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 2017 after pivotal trials showed dramatic reductions in inflammatory disease activity in relapsing MS as well as lessening of disability progression in primary progressive MS. These and other clinical studies place B cells at the center of the inflammatory cascade in MS and provide a launching point for development of therapies that target selective pathogenic B-cell populations.
Copyright © 2019 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; all rights reserved.