Objective: To investigate the safety and efficacy of rituximab (RTX) for systemic symptoms in patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS), and changes in B cell biomarkers.
Patients and methods: The records of 16 patients with pSS according to the American European consensus group criteria were reviewed retrospectively.
Results: Patients, all women, had a median age of 58.5 (range 41–71) years and a disease duration of 9.5 (range 0–25) years. RTX was prescribed for lymphoma (n = 5), refractory pulmonary disease with polysynovitis (n = 2), severe polysynovitis (n = 2), mixed cryoglobulinaemia (n = 5), thrombocytopenia (n = 1) and mononeuritis multiplex (n = 1). The median follow-up duration was 14.5 (range 2–48) months. Three patients experienced adverse events, including one mild serum sickness-like reaction with the presence of human antichimeric antibodies. Efficacy of treatment was observed in 4 of 5 patients with lymphomas and in 9 of 11 patients with systemic involvement. Dryness was improved in only a minority of patients. Corticosteroid dose was reduced in 11 patients. RTX induced decreased rheumatoid factor, γ-globulin and β2-microglobulin levels, and the level of B cell activating factor of the tumour necrosis factor family (BAFF) increased concomitantly with B cell depletion. Five patients were re-treated, with good efficacy and tolerance, except for one with probable serum sickness-like reaction.
Conclusion: This study shows good efficacy and fair tolerance of RTX for systemic features. In addition, RTX allows for a marked reduction in corticosteroid use. Except for BAFF, the level of which increases, serum B cell biomarker levels decrease after taking RTX. Controlled trials should be performed to confirm the efficacy of RTX in pSS.
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Published Online First 1 September 2006
↵* These authors contributed equally to this work.
Funding: This work was supported by grant Réseau de recherche clinique INSERM on Sjögren’s syndrome.
Competing interests: None.
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