B cells in rheumatoid arthritis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though its etiology remains unknown thus far, the role that autoimmune processes play in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis has been widely proven. Given the easier accessibility of humoral components, the first feature of this contribution to be recognized has been the occurrence of the so-called rheumatoid factor in a large proportion of RA patients. This antibody recognizes the Fc portion of human IgG. By investigating RA pathologic processes and also through experimental models where immune complexes play a fundamental role, many other autoantibodies have then come to our knowledge to be associated with the disease. Their presence and persistence implies that clones of autoreactive B cells survive and proliferate in RA patients under a continuous stimulation. Whether this is a mechanism of disease initiation or just an epiphenomenon is still unclear but no doubt exists that autoantibodies represent a very useful tool in both diagnostic and prognostic terms. Being much more than simple autoantibody producers, B cells are able to secrete many important cytokines and to efficiently present antigens to T lymphocytes in the synovial environment. All of these functions are essential in the development of RA, and lately have claimed attention as B cell depletion has become a common and effective strategy of treatment in RA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-487
Number of pages6
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


  • Autoantibodies
  • B lymphocytes
  • Lymphoid neogenesis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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