Anti-CD20 Therapy Alters the Protein Signature in Experimental Murine AIH, but Not Exclusively towards Regeneration

Background: Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease that usually requires lifelong immunosuppression. Frequent recurrences after the discontinuation of therapy indicate that intrahepatic immune regulation is not restored by current treatments. Studies of other autoimmune diseases suggest that temporary depletion of B cells can improve disease progression in the long term.

Methods: We tested a single administration of anti-CD20 antibodies to reduce B cells and the amount of IgG to induce intrahepatic immune tolerance. We used our experimental murine AIH (emAIH) model and treated the mice with anti-CD20 during the late stage of the disease.

Results: After treatment, the mice showed the expected reductions in B cells and serum IgGs, but no improvements in pathology. However, all treated animals showed a highly altered serum protein expression pattern, which was a balance between inflammation and regeneration.

Conclusions: In conclusion, anti-CD20 therapy did not produce clinically measurable results because it triggered inflammation, as well as regeneration, at the proteomic level. This finding suggests that anti-CD20 is ineffective as a sole treatment for AIH or emAIH.


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