Objective: Lymphocytes are a contributor to the pathogenesis of anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibody (ANCA) associated vasculitis (AASV). Conventional immunosuppressive therapy is associated with high rates of relapse and toxicity. Humanised monoclonal anti-CD52 antibodies (alemtuzumab, CAMPATH-1H) selectively deplete lymphocytes. We present long-term follow-up results of patients with relapsing/refractory AASV treated with CAMPATH-1H.
Patients and methods: Between 1991 and 1999, 71 patients with refractory or relapsing AASV received CAMPATH-1H at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK. Other immunosuppressive drugs were discontinued and prednisolone was tapered to 10 mg/day.
Results: The mean follow-up time was 5 years. In all, 79% had previously received cyclophosphamide (median dose 150 g). At the time of treatment, 42% had renal involvement (median creatinine for the cohort 101 μmol/litre excluding six patients who were dialysis dependent) and 18% were critically ill from AASV and required the intensive care unit. A total of 60 patients (85%) obtained a remission after treatment with CAMPATH-1H but 43 relapsed (median 9.2 months); 24 had a remission greater than 1 year, of which 10 had a remission of at least 3 years. A total of 31 patients died (median survival time of 106 months). Age >50 years, dialysis dependency and the development of a severe infection at the time of treatment were associated with an increased risk of death in multivariable analysis. Adverse events were common; 28 patients developed an infection, 3 malignancy and 8 thyroid disease.
Conclusions: CAMPATH-1H induced remission in most patients with difficult to treat AASV. However, relapse and adverse events were common. Further study of CAMPATH-1H as an induction agent in AASV is warranted.
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Funding: MW is supported by fellowship grants from the Kidney Research Scientist Core Education Training Program, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Competing interests: DJ has received research funding from Genzyme.
Ethics approval: Ethics approval was obtained.
All patients in this study received CAMPATH 1-H under the supervision of Professor C M Lockwood who pioneered this and other immunotherapies in vasculitis.