Glatiramer acetate (GA, copolymer-1, Copaxone) is a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). However, its mechanism of action remains ill-defined. The available evidence indicates that GA induces antigen-presenting cells with anti-inflammatory properties and promotes the generation of immunoregulatory T cells that suppress pathogenic T cells. A new study by Kala et al. (2010) now shows that B lymphocytes, which are best known for their antibody-secreting properties, contribute to the beneficial effects of GA against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of MS. This commentary discusses these new findings in the context of the pathogenesis of MS and EAE, the emerging immunoregulatory role of B cells in autoimmunity, and the relevance of B cells as targets for immunotherapy in MS.
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