B cell involvement in the pathogenesis of ankylosing spondylitis

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Extensive research into ankylosing spondylitis (AS) has suggested the major role of genetics, immune reactions, and the joint–gut axis in its etiology, although an ultimate consensus does not yet exist. The available evidence indicates that both autoinflammation and T-cell-mediated autoimmune processes are actively involved in the disease process of AS. So far, B cells have received relatively little attention in AS pathogenesis; this is largely due to a lack of conventional diseasedefining autoantibodies. However, against prevailing dogma, there is a growing body of evidence suggestive of B cell involvement. This is illustrated by disturbances in circulating B cell populations and the formation of auto-reactive and non-autoreactive antibodies, along with B cell infiltrates within the axial skeleton of AS patients. Furthermore, the depletion of B cells, using rituximab, displayed beneficial results in a subgroup of patients with AS. This review provides an overview of our current knowledge of B cells in AS, and discusses their potential role in its pathogenesis. An overarching picture portrays increased B cell activation in AS, although it is unclear whether B cells directly affect pathogenesis, or are merely bystanders in the disease process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13325
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1-Dec-2021


  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Antibodies
  • Autoantibodies
  • Axial spondyloarthritis
  • B cell infiltration
  • B cell subsets
  • B cells

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