B-Cell-Directed Therapies: A New Era in Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Can J Neurol Sci. 2022 May 16;1-10. doi: 10.1017/cjn.2022.60. Online ahead of print.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that often progresses to severe disability. Previous studies have highlighted the role of T cells in disease pathophysiology; however, the success of B-cell-targeted therapies has led to an increased interest in how B cells contribute to disease immunopathology. In this review, we summarize evidence of B-cell involvement in MS disease mechanisms, starting with pathology and moving on to review aspects of B cell immunobiology potentially relevant to MS. We describe current theories of critical B cell contributions to the inflammatory CNS milieu in MS, namely (i) production of autoantibodies, (ii) antigen presentation, (iii) production of proinflammatory cytokines (bystander activation), and (iv) EBV involvement. In the second part of the review, we summarize medications that have targeted B cells in patients with MS and their current position in the therapeutic armamentarium based on clinical trials and real-world data. Covered therapeutic strategies include the targeting of surface molecules such as CD20 (rituximab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab, ublituximab) and CD19 (inebilizumab), and molecules necessary for B-cell activation such as B cell activating factor (BAFF) (belimumab) and Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) (evobrutinib). We finally discuss the use of B-cell-targeted therapeutics in pregnancy.

Keywords: B cells; CD19; CD20; Monoclonal antibodies; Multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review