Several monoclonal antibodies targeting B cells have been tested as therapeutics for inflammatory rheumatic diseases. We review important observations from randomized clinical trials regarding the efficacy and safety of anti–B cell antibody-based therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis, polymyositis/dermatomyositis, and primary Sjögren's syndrome. For some anti–B cell agents, clinical benefits have been convincingly demonstrated, while other B cell–targeted therapies failed to improve outcomes when added to standard-of-care treatment or were associated with increased rates of adverse events. Although the risk-benefit balance seems to be acceptable for currently licensed anti–B cell agents, additional studies are required to fully assess the safety of treatment regimens involving prolonged interference with B cell counts and functions in rheumatic disorders. Future studies should also evaluate how to maintain disease control by means of conventional and/or biologic immunosuppressants after remission-induction with anti–B cell antibodies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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