Ann Rheum Dis 65:942-945 doi:10.1136/ard.2005.044487
  • Concise report

Repeated B cell depletion in treatment of refractory systemic lupus erythematosus

  1. K P Ng,
  2. M J Leandro,
  3. J C Edwards,
  4. M R Ehrenstein,
  5. G Cambridge,
  6. D A Isenberg
  1. Centre for Rheumatology, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor D Isenberg
    Centre for Rheumatology, Arthur Stanley House, 40–50 Tottenham Street, London W1T 4NJ, UK; D.Isenberg{at}
  • Revised 26 October 2005
  • Published Online First 3 November 2005


Objectives: To report the clinical outcome and safety profile of repeated B cell depletion in seven patients with refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: Since June 2000, seven patients with refractory SLE had repeated cycles of B cell depletion (18 cycles in total, up to three cycles per patient) because of disease relapse. The clinical response (assessed by the British Isles Lupus Activity Guide (BILAG) activity index), duration of B cell depletion, and adverse events in these patients was reviewed.

Results: Four patients (Nos 1, 2, 3, 6) had three cycles of treatment and three (Nos 4, 5, 7) had two cycles. Four of the seven patients (Nos 1, 3, 5, 6) improved. The mean global BILAG scores dropped from 15 to 6 at 5–7 months. The median duration of clinical response and B cell depletion was 13 months and 6 months, respectively. After the third cycle, 2/4 patients (Nos 1 and 2) improved. The median duration of clinical benefit was 12 months. Most patients tolerate re-treatment very well.

Conclusion: Re-treatment with B cell depletion of patients with severe SLE is safe and may be effective for 6–12 months on average.


  • Competing interest: None.

  • Published Online First 3 November 2005