Delayed acquisition of somatic hypermutations in repopulated IGD+CD27+ memory B cell receptors after rituximab treatment.

Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Aug;60(8):2284-93
Authors: Muhammad K, Roll P, Einsele H, Dörner T, Tony HP

OBJECTIVE: Transient B cell depletion by rituximab has been used with clinical efficacy in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Previous studies of B cell repopulation have shown long-term numerical reduction in memory B cells. Non-class-switched IgD+CD27+ memory B cells, in particular, repopulate slowly. This study was undertaken to determine whether mutational acquisition in individual B cell receptors in repopulating class-switched and non-class-switched memory B cells is affected by rituximab. METHODS: Cells obtained from 16 RA patients, 4 healthy donors, and 3 patients who underwent allogeneic stem cell transplantation (ASCT) were analyzed using single B cell sorting followed by nested polymerase chain reaction and Ig V(H)3 sequencing. RESULTS: There was a delayed acquisition of mutations in Ig receptors of IgD+ memory B cells over a period of 6 years after a single course of rituximab. One year after rituximab treatment, 84% of single repopulating IgD+CD27+ B cells were unmutated, and no highly mutated Ig receptors were found (compared with 52% before therapy). Over time, increasing numbers of mutations were detected. Even 6 years after rituximab treatment, however, mutations in IgD+ memory B cells were still significantly reduced. In contrast, class-switched memory B cells repopulated with quantitatively normal mutations. In comparison, in patients undergoing ASCT, IgD+ memory cells repopulated earlier with higher mutations in Ig receptors. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that IgD+ memory B cells are particularly susceptible to the effects of rituximab, with delayed acquisition of mutations in their Ig receptors still evident 6 years after a single course of rituximab. Our findings indicate that these cells have different requirements for mutational acquisition compared with class-switched memory B cells.

PMID: 19644860 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]