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.
- Goodpasture's disease
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