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      Rituximab and its potential for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

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          Abstract

          Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disorder which causes deforming joint disease and a spectrum of extraarticular manifestations. Poor disease control may lead to functional impairment and loss of independence. In recent times a prominent role for B cells in the pathogenesis of RA has been suggested. Two major theories have been postulated to explain the role of rheumatoid factor (RF) in the RA inflammatory process and the reason for RF overproduction; the loss of tolerance model and the autonomous mutated B cell model. With this in mind, strategies have been adopted to deplete B cells including the use of the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab. Rituximab leads to complement mediated lysis of B cells as well as antibody-dependant cellular cytotoxicity. It has been hypothesized that rituximab may also initiate apoptosis in RA and alter the ability of B cells to respond to antigen and other stimuli. Several recent studies using rituximab have demonstrated significant declines in RA activity providing evidence for the role of B cells in RA. Rituximab would appear to be a major addition to the increasing therapeutic options for sufferers of RA.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Infliximab (chimeric anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha monoclonal antibody) versus placebo in rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving concomitant methotrexate: a randomised phase III trial. ATTRACT Study Group.

          Not all patients with rheumatoid arthritis can tolerate or respond to methotrexate, a standard treatment for this disease. There is evidence that antitumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) is efficacious in relief of signs and symptoms. We therefore investigated whether infliximab, a chimeric human-mouse anti-TNFalpha monoclonal antibody would provide additional clinical benefit to patients who had active rheumatoid arthritis despite receiving methotrexate. In an international double-blind placebo-controlled phase III clinical trial, 428 patients who had active rheumatoid arthritis, who had received continuous methotrexate for at least 3 months and at a stable dose for at least 4 weeks, were randomised to placebo (n=88) or one of four regimens of infliximab at weeks 0, 2, and 6. Additional infusions of the same dose were given every 4 or 8 weeks thereafter on a background of a stable dose of methotrexate (median 15 mg/week for > or =6 months, range 10-35 mg/wk). Patients were assessed every 4 weeks for 30 weeks. At 30 weeks, the American College of Rheumatology (20) response criteria, representing a 20% improvement from baseline, were achieved in 53, 50, 58, and 52% of patients receiving 3 mg/kg every 4 or 8 weeks or 10 mg/kg every 4 or 8 weeks, respectively, compared with 20% of patients receiving placebo plus methotrexate (p<0.001 for each of the four infliximab regimens vs placebo). A 50% improvement was achieved in 29, 27, 26, and 31% of infliximab plus methotrexate in the same treatment groups, compared with 5% of patients on placebo plus methotrexate (p<0.001). Infliximab was well-tolerated; withdrawals for adverse events as well as the occurrence of serious adverse events or serious infections did not exceed those in the placebo group. During 30 weeks, treatment with infliximab plus methotrexate was more efficacious than methotrexate alone in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis not previously responding to methotrexate.
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            CD40-CD40 ligand.

            CD40 is a cell surface receptor that belongs to the tumor necrosis factor-R (TNF-R) family, and that was first identified and functionally characterized on B lymphocytes. Its critical role in T cell-dependent humoral immune responses was demonstrated by patients with the hyper-IgM syndrome, as well as by gene targeting in mice. However, in recent years it has become clear that CD40 is expressed much more broadly, including expression on monocytes, dendritic cells, endothelial cells, and epithelial cells. In addition, the CD40-ligand (CD40-L/CD154), a member of the TNF family, is also expressed more widely than activated CD4+ T cells only. Therefore it is now thought that CD40-CD40-L interactions play a more general role in immune regulation. Collectively these studies have culminated in pre-clinical and clinical studies that are in progress. This article reviews recent developments in this field of research, with main emphasis on (1) structure and expression of CD40 and its ligand; (2) CD40 signal transduction; (3) in vitro function of CD40 on different cell types; and (4) in vivo functions of CD40/CD40-L interactions.
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              Inhibitory effect of TNF alpha antibodies on synovial cell interleukin-1 production in rheumatoid arthritis.

              The effect of tumour necrosis factor (TNF alpha) antibodies on synovial cell interleukin-1 (IL-1) production was investigated in 7 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and in 7 with osteoarthritis. Synovial cell IL-1 production was significantly reduced by anti-TNF alpha antibody in cultures from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but antilymphotoxin antibody did not have this effect (except in 1 culture). In cultures from patients with osteoarthritis spontaneous IL-1 production was low, despite high concentrations of TNF alpha, and IL-1 production was not inhibited by anti-TNF alpha antibody. In rheumatoid arthritis, TNF alpha may be the main inducer of IL-1, and anti-TNF alpha agents may be useful in treatment.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                1176-6336
                1178-203X
                June 2006
                June 2006
                : 2
                : 2
                : 207-212
                Affiliations
                Haematology Department, St., Vincent's Hospital Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: John Moore Haematology Department, St. Vincent's Hospital, Victoria St, Darlinghurst 2010, NSW, Australia. Tel +61 2 8383 2677 Fax +61 2 8382 2645 Email jmoore@ 123456stvincents.com.au
                Article
                1661661
                18360594
                © 2006 Dove Medical Press Limited. All rights reserved
                Categories
                Review

                Medicine

                rheumatoid arthritis, rituximab, autoimmune diseases

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