Radio Shows | Memory B Cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis | mp3 … wma … wav
Most of the time your body is programmed to protect you but sometimes that's just not the case.
There's a whole class of disorders that's the result of our immune system attacking our own tissues. One of these disorders is Rheumatoid arthritis or RA.
People with RA have high levels of antibodies that invade their joints and the surrounding tissues including tendons and muscles. This causes inflammation which leads to swelling, pain, stiffness and redness.
One theory for why people get RA is that certain infections or environmental factors trigger the immune system to attack. This chronic joint inflammation ends up damaging cartilage, ligaments and even bone which can lead to joint deformity.
The medications to treat RA fall into two types: fast-acting or slow-acting which are also called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs. The fast acting drugs, such as aspirin and corticosteroids, reduce pain and inflammation.
DMARDs try to actually cure the disease and prevent progressive joint destruction.
Among the newer DMARDS is Rituximab which is directed against a class of immune cells called B cells. B cells make antibodies that attack the joints and Rituximab attempts to get rid of them.
In studies of RA patients, about half responded to this drug but most relapsed. Studies of these relapsing patients revealed they had higher levels of what are called memory B cells which seemed to rebound after each administration of the drug.
Normally Memory B cells are great because they're the ones that remain after your body has responded to an infection and give you long term immunity. Except in this case, they work against you.
More studies with the memory B cells are needed in order to get a better handle on this debilitating disease. It may also help us understand what triggers our immune system to attack the very tissues it's made to protect.
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