PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Immunology - Pathology - Public Health and Epidemiology - Rheumatology

Biomarkers of Good EULAR Response to the B Cell Depletion Therapy in All Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Clues for the Pathogenesis
Published: Monday, July 30, 2012
Author: Gianfranco Ferraccioli et al.

by Gianfranco Ferraccioli, Barbara Tolusso, Francesca Bobbio-Pallavicini, Elisa Gremese, Viviana Ravagnani, Maurizio Benucci, Edoardo Podestà, Fabiola Atzeni, Alice Mannocci, Domenico Biasi, Mariangela Manfredi, Piercarlo Sarzi-Puttini, Bruno Laganà, Carlomaurizio Montecucco


To find out whether a high number of auto-antibodies can increase the probability of a “good-EULAR response” and to identify the possible biomarkers of response in seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients undergoing the B cell depletion therapy (BCDT).

Patients and Methods

One hundred and thirty-eight patients with long standing RA (LSRA), 75% non or poorly responsive to one or more TNFa blockers, all seropositive for at least one autoantibody (AAB) (RF-IgM, RF-IgA, RF-IgG, anti-MCV, ACPA-IgG, ACPA-IgA, ACPA-IgM) received one full course of BCDT. The major outcomes (moderate or good-EULAR response) were assessed after 6 months of therapy. The IL6 and BAFF levels were also determined.


At a 6-month follow-up, 33 (23.9%) of the RA patients achieved a good EULAR response. Having up to 5-AABs positivity increased the chances for treatment response. After a logistic regression analysis, however, only 4 baseline factors arose as associated with a good-EULAR response: no steroid therapy (OR?=?6.25), a lymphocyte count <1875/uL (OR?=?10.74), a RF-IgG level >52.1 IU/ml (OR?=?8.37) and BAFF levels <1011 pg/ml (OR?=?7.38). When all the AABs, except for RF-IgM and ACPA-IgG, were left in the analysis, the two final predictors were no-steroid therapy and low lymphocyte count.


The number of AABs increased the chances of being a “good-EULAR” responder. The only predictors, however, at the baseline of a good response in this seropositive cohort of RA patients were 2 simple variables – no steroids and lymphocyte count – and two laboratory assays – IgG-RF and BAFF.