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Research paper
Lymphocyte antigens targetable by monoclonal antibodies in non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy
  1. Christian Schneider1,
  2. Gilbert Wunderlich1,
  3. Johannes Bleistein2,
  4. Gereon R Fink1,3,
  5. Martina Deckert4,
  6. Anna Brunn4,
  7. Helmar Christoph Lehmann1
  1. 1 Department of Neurology, University of Cologne, Köln, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Neurology, St. Katharinen Hospital, Frechen, Germany
  3. 3 Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-3), Research Centre Juelich, Jülich, Germany
  4. 4 Department of Neuropathology, University of Cologne, Köln, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Helmar Christoph Lehmann, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Cologne, Kerpener Straße 62, Köln D-150937, Germany; helmar.lehmann{at}


Objective To identify the most relevant antigens for monoclonal antibodies in lymphocytic infiltrates in non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy (NSVN).

Background Current immunosuppressive treatment for NSVN is insufficient. Monoclonal antibodies might be a treatment option, but the expression profile for targetable antigens on lymphocytic infiltrates in NSVN is unknown.

Methods Sural nerve biopsies from a cohort of patients with NSVN were immunohistochemically studied for the expression of potential candidate antigens in perivascular and intramural lymphocytic infiltrates and correlated with neurological and electrophysiological parameters. 20 patients with treatment naïve NSVN and 5 patients with idiopathic axonal neuropathy were included.

Results The CD52, BAFF and CD49d antigens were expressed in epineurial, perivascular or intramural lymphocytes of all (20/20) patients. CD52 was most prominently expressed in 21.49% of all inflammatory infiltrates. BAFF and CD49d were detected in 11.25% and 10.99% of these lymphocytes, respectively. The CD20, CD25 and CD126 antigens were found less frequently and at low levels only (CD20: 10/20 patients, 5.84% of lymphocytes; CD25: 17/20 patients, 5.22% of lymphocytes; CD126: 3/20 patients, 0.15% of lymphocytes).

Conclusion This is the first study in NSVN that identifies antigens expressed by pathogenic lymphocytes, which are potential targets for future monoclonal antibody treatment. Our data suggest that NSVN is amenable to monoclonal antibodies and, moreover, that targeting CD52 may be particularly promising. Our results strongly warrant future clinical trials in NSVN with monoclonal antibodies.

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Vasculitis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy

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  • Contributors CS: Acquisition and analysis of data, drafting the manuscript for content. GW: Study concept, drafting the manuscript for content. JB: drafting the manuscript for content, data analysis. GRF: Study concept, drafting the manuscript for content. MD: Study concept, drafting the manuscript for content. AB: Acquisition and analysis of data, study concept, drafting the manuscript for content. HCL: study design and concept, drafting the manuscript for content.

  • Competing interests HCL has received personal compensations and/or grant support from Baxter, Celgene, CSL Behring, Fresenius, Genzyme, Grifols and Novartis.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ‘BMJ Publishing Group’. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.