Recent clinical trials have established B cell depletion by the anti-CD20 chimeric antibody Rituximab as a beneficial therapy for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). The impact of Rituximab on T cell responses remains largely unexplored. In the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of MS in mice that express human CD20, Rituximab administration rapidly depleted peripheral B cells and strongly reduced EAE severity. B cell depletion was also associated with diminished Delayed Type Hypersensitivity (DTH) and a reduction in T cell proliferation and IL-17 production during recall immune response experiments. While Rituximab is not considered a broad immunosuppressant, our results indicate a role for B cells as a therapeutic cellular target in regulating encephalitogenic T cell responses in specific tissues.
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