Favourable response to therapy with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab in primary chronic cold agglutinin disease

Br J Haematol. 2001 Oct;115(1):79-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.2001.03078.x.


The 'primary' form of chronic cold agglutinin disease is a clonal B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder that is notoriously difficult to treat with drugs, including corticosteroids, alkylating agents, alpha-interferon and purine analogues. We performed a small, open, uncontrolled, prospective study to evaluate the effect of therapy with the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab. Six patients with clonal CD20(+)kappa(+) B-cell proliferation received seven courses of rituximab 375 mg/m(2), d 1, 8, 15, and 22. One patient achieved a complete response. Four partial responses were observed, including a response to re-treatment in one patient. Two patients were categorized as non-responders. Haemoglobin levels increased by a median of 4.1 g/dl in the total group and 4.7 g/dl in the responders, who also experienced a substantial improvement of clinical symptoms. The treatment was well tolerated. We discuss the effect of rituximab therapy compared with other treatment options, and try to explain why two individual patients did not respond. Despite the small numbers, the results are very encouraging. Further studies of rituximab therapy for chronic cold agglutinin disease are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / blood
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rituximab
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Hemoglobins
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Rituximab