B-Lymphocyte Depletion Reduces Skin Fibrosis and Autoimmunity in the Tight-Skin Mouse Model for Systemic Sclerosis

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States
American Journal Of Pathology (Impact Factor: 4.59). 10/2006; 169(3):954-66. DOI: 10.2353/ajpath.2006.060205
Source: PubMed


Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) is an autoimmune disease characterized by excessive extracellular matrix deposition in the skin. A direct role for B lymphocytes in disease development or progression has remained controversial, although autoantibody production is a feature of this disease. To address this issue, skin sclerosis and autoimmunity were assessed in tight-skin mice, a genetic model of human systemic sclerosis, after circulating and tissue B-cell depletion using an anti-mouse CD20 monoclonal antibody before (day 3 after birth) and after disease development (day 56). CD20 monoclonal antibody treatment (10 to 20 microg) depleted the majority (85 to 99%) of circulating and tissue B cells in newborn and adult tight-skin mice by days 56 and 112, respectively. B-cell depletion in newborn tight-skin mice significantly suppressed (approximately 43%) the development of skin fibrosis, autoantibody production, and hypergammaglobulinemia. B-cell depletion also restored a more normal balance between Th1 and Th2 cytokine mRNA expression in the skin. By contrast, B-cell depletion did not affect skin fibrosis, hypergammaglobulinemia, and autoantibody levels in adult mice with established disease. Thereby, B-cell depletion during disease onset suppressed skin fibrosis, indicating that B cells contribute to the initiation of systemic sclerosis pathogenesis in tight-skin mice but are not required for disease maintenance.

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Available from: Koichi Yanaba
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    • "CXCL10 is secreted by the hepatocytes in inflammatory areas, and it recruits T cells to the hepatic lesions in chronic HCV infection [47]. Several studies [48-51] assessed the efficacy of RTX in patients with systemic sclerosis, because B cell play a key role in skin fibrogenesis [50,52]. The platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) stimulates fibroblast proliferation, with subsequent collagen production. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC) is a HCV-related lymphoproliferative disorder generally associated with advanced liver disease. Liver stiffness has been significantly correlated with histopathological stage of fibrosis. Moreover, it was influenced by necroinflammatory activity. Rituximab (RTX) is a chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody inducing transient B lymphocytes depletion that was shown to be useful and safe in the majority of HCV MC patients, leading also to improvement of cirrhotic syndrome. Aim of this study was to evaluate the modifications of liver stiffness following RTX treatment in HCV-related MC patients.Materials and methods: Fourteen consecutive patients (10 F, 4 M; mean age 60.43 +/- 43) with HCV-related chronic hepatitis (n = 10) or cirrhosis (n = 4) and MC, eligible for RTX treatment, were prospectively enrolled. Intravenous injection of 1 g of RTX was performed at day 0 and at day 15. Assessment of stiffness was carried out by Fibroscan(R) (Echosens, Paris-France) at baseline, 15 days after the first infusion, and at month 1, 3 and 6 after therapy. MC symptoms significantly improved during the study, especially during the first 3 months. Liver stiffness observed 3 months after treatment was significantly reduced when compared with pre-treatment values (p = 0.01). This difference disappeared after 6 months of follow-up. Cytofluorimetric analysis showed a decrease of CD19+ peripheral blood cells, with the nadir at month 3 after therapy and B cell compartment reconstitution after 6 months. This study, for the first time showed that RTX-treatment in HCV-related MC induces a reduction of liver stiffness that is strictly associated with the B-cell depletion.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of Translational Medicine
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    • "This study suggests that BAFF could be an interesting therapeutic target in SSc, by its amplifying effect on profibrotic cytokines and collagen secretion. Interestingly, in the tight-skin mouse model, B-cell depletion or BAFF inhibition prevents skin fibrosis [35,36]. "
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    ABSTRACT: B lymphocytes might play a pathogenic role in dermal fibrosis in systemic sclerosis (SSc). B-cell activating factor (BAFF), a key cytokine for B-cell activation, is increased in the serum and the skin of patients with SSc. However, the ability of B cells directly to stimulate dermal fibroblasts and the role of BAFF are not fully understood. We therefore investigated the involvement of B cells and BAFF in the expression of collagen and profibrotic markers by dermal fibroblasts. Cocultures of blood B cells from healthy blood donors and normal or SSc dermal fibroblasts stimulated with anti-IgM and BAFF were performed. Alpha-SMA, TIMP1, MMP9, COL1A1, COL1A2, and COL3A1 mRNA expression were determined by quantitative RT-PCR. Soluble collagen, BAFF, IL-6, IL-1β, TGF-β1, and CCL2 protein secretion were assessed. Coculture of blood B cells and dermal fibroblasts isolated from SSc patients induced IL-6, TGF-β1, CCL2, and collagen secretion, as well as Alpha-SMA, TIMP1, and MMP9 expression in dermal fibroblasts. Transwell assays demonstrated that this induction was dependent on cell-cell contact. Addition of anti-IgM and BAFF to the coculture increased IL-6, CCL2, TGF-β1, and collagen secretion. B cell- and BAFF-induced collagen secretion was highly reduced by anti-TGF-β1 antibodies. Our results showed for the first time a direct role of B cells on the production of collagen by dermal fibroblasts, which is further enhanced by BAFF. Thus, these results demonstrate a new pathogenic role of B cells and BAFF in fibrosis and systemic sclerosis.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Arthritis research & therapy
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    • "During the last few years, four studies - including one from our research group - have assessed the potential clinical efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in patients with SSc and have reported encouraging results [1-4]. The rationale for the use of RTX in SSc is based on strong experimental data suggesting a key role for B cells in regulating the fibrotic process [5-9]. Patients treated with RTX showed either an improvement of skin fibrosis or lung function or remained clinically stable; it should be noted, however, that stabilization alone should be considered a positive outcome in this devastating disease where patients tend to gradually worsen over time. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, several studies assessing the clinical efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in systemic sclerosis (SSc) have reported encouraging results. We aimed at exploring whether RTX exerts its beneficial effects on fibrosis through attenuation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) pathway activation. We immunohistochemically assessed skin biopsies obtained from eight patients with SSc prior to and 6 months following RTX treatment, three control SSc patients (at the same time points) and three healthy subjects. We assessed the expression of platelet-derived growth factor, PDGFR and phosphorylated (activated) PDGFR. We found a strong correlation of PDGFRα and PDGFRβ expression on spindle-like cells and collagen deposition in SSc biopsies (r = 0.97 and r = 0.96 for PDGFRα and PDGFRβ, respectively; P < 0.0001 for both), indicating a strong link between PDGFR expression and fibrosis. Expression of PDGFRα and PDGFRβ in the papillary dermis significantly decreased following RTX administration (mean ± standard error of the mean at baseline vs. 6 months, respectively: PDGFRα, 42.05 ± 5.03 vs. 26.85 ± 3.00, P = 0.004; and PDGFRβ, 37.14 ± 4.94 vs. 24.01 ± 3.27, P = 0.012). Similarly, expression of phosphorylated PDGFRα and PDGFRβ in the papillary dermis significantly decreased following RTX administration (P = 0.006 and P = 0.013 for phospho-PDGFRα and phospho-PDGFRβ, respectively). No changes in platelet-derived growth factor tissue expression or serum levels were found following RTX treatment. RTX may favorably affect skin fibrosis through attenuation of PDGFR expression and activation, a finding that supports a disease-modifying role of RTX in SSc. Large-scale, multicenter studies are needed to further explore the efficacy of RTX in SSc.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Arthritis research & therapy
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