Ann Rheum Dis 61:922-924 doi:10.1136/ard.61.10.922
  • Concise report

Treatment of refractory antibody mediated autoimmune disorders with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (rituximab)

  1. K Arzoo,
  2. S Sadeghi,
  3. H A Liebman
  1. Department of Medicine, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr H A Liebman, Division of Hematology, Kenneth Norris Jr Cancer Center, MS 34, 1441 Eastlake Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA;
  • Accepted 12 February 2002


Background: Rituximab, a chimeric monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody, has recently been used for the treatment of refractory antibody mediated autoimmune diseases such as immune mediated thrombocytopenia and haemolytic anaemia.

Patients: Because of its novel mechanism of action, rituximab was used to treat three patients with refractory systemic antibody mediated autoimmune disorders. The first patient, a 71 year old woman with idiopathic type II mixed essential cryoglobulinaemia, had both dermatological and neurological manifestations with marked renal disease attributed to her cryoglobulinaemia. Patient 2, a 73 year old woman with Goodpasture's syndrome, was refractory to conventional treatment (cyclophosphamide, prednisone, plasmapheresis). She had persistent haemoptysis and haematuria and positive antiglomerular basement membrane antibodies. The third patient, a 75 year old man with primary biliary cirrhosis, myelodysplasia, and systemic immune complex vasculitis, had progressive renal insufficiency, a macular erythematous rash, and severe thrombocytopenia.

Results: Treatment with rituximab resolved all clinical and laboratory manifestations in the three patients.

Conclusions: Rituximab may be an important therapeutic agent for the treatment of patients refractory or intolerant to corticosteroid or cytotoxic treatment, or both.