The contribution of autoantibody-producing plasma cells in multiple sclerosis (MS) remains unclear. Anti-CD20 B cell depletion effectively reduces disease activity in MS patients, but it has a minimal effect on circulating autoantibodies and oligoclonal bands in the cerebrospinal fluid. Recently we reported that MEDI551, an anti-CD19 mAb, therapeutically ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the mouse model of MS. MEDI551 potently inhibits pathogenic adaptive immune responses, including depleting autoantibody-producing plasma cells. In the present study, we demonstrated that CD19 mAb treatment ameliorates EAE more effectively than does CD20 mAb. Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-specific Abs and short-lived and longlived autoantibody-secreting cells were nearly undetectable in the CD19 mAb-treated mice, but they remained detectable in the CD20 mAb-treated mice. Interestingly, residual disease severity in the CD20 mAb-treated animals positively correlated with the frequency of treatment-resistant plasma cells in the bone marrow. Of note, treatment-resistant plasma cells contained a substantial proportion of CD19+CD20- plasma cells, which would have otherwise been targeted by CD19 mAb. These data suggested that CD19+CD20- plasma cells spared by anti-CD20 therapy likely contribute to residual EAE severity by producing autoreactive Abs. In patients with MS, we also identified a population of CD19+CD20- B cells in the cerebrospinal fluid that would be resistant to CD20 mAb treatment.
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