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This article is part of the supplement: Targeting B cells in autoimmune diseases

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Roles of B cells in rheumatoid arthritis

Gregg J Silverman* and Dennis A Carson

Author Affiliations

Rheumatic Disease Core Center and Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

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Arthritis Res Ther 2003, 5(Suppl 4):S1-S6  doi:10.1186/ar1010

Published: 2 December 2003


B lymphocytes play several critical roles in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. They are the source of the rheumatoid factors and anticitrullinated protein antibodies, which contribute to immune complex formation and complement activation in the joints. B cells are also very efficient antigen-presenting cells, and can contribute to T cell activation through expression of costimulatory molecules. B cells both respond to and produce the chemokines and cytokines that promote leukocyte infiltration into the joints, formation of ectopic lymphoid structures, angiogenesis, and synovial hyperplasia. The success of B cell depletion therapy in rheumatoid arthritis may depend on disruption of all these diverse functions.

antigen presentation; autoantibody; immune complexes; immunity; synovitis; tolerance