B lymphocyte pathology in human colorectal cancer. Experimental and clinical therapeutic effects of partial B cell depletion
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Accumulating data are showing that the humoral immune response against tumors could favor tumor progression. However, no B lymphocyte pathology has been reported in cancer. Using anti-IgM Ab we nonspecifically depleted B cells in tumor-bearing mice, a treatment that resulted in significant reduction of tumor burden. We analyzed the B lymphocyte phenotype of abdominal lymph nodes and peripheral blood from advanced colon cancer patients by flow cytometry, and compared the B cell phenotype with that found in samples from normal donors. In both lymph nodes and peripheral blood of cancer patients, abnormal populations of B lymphocytes appeared that express an increased CD21 and/or sTn antigens on their cell surface. All patients showed a reduction of CD19+ cells. In a limited clinical test, we analyzed the effects of a partial B cell depletion with Rituximab. The treated patients did not develop any side-effects; the CD21-hyperpositive lymphocytes were reduced, but the proportion of sTn-positive lymphocytes remained unaffected. Apparent reduction of the tumor burden was reported in 50% of the patients when the treatment was ended.
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