A phase II study of Rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis patients with recurrent disease following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2004 Aug;34(3):241-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bmt.1704570.


Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) has been used recently as an effective therapy in patients with resistant rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although disease control occurs in the majority of cases, recurrence is common, often coinciding with B-cell reconstitution. We hypothesized that Rituximab, a monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody, would have activity in this group of patients. We treated 10 RA patients (8F:2M, median age 46.5 years), who had recurrent disease post HSCT. All patients received two doses of Rituximab 1 g, 2 weeks apart with no major adverse sequelae and were followed for 12 months. A total of eight out of 10 patients experienced major clinical responses as measured by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria, with 50-70% improvement in disease parameters. Responses were equivalent to previous responses attained with HSCT. Disease responses were maximal at 4-8 months post Rituximab and correlated with B-cell lymphopenia and a reduction of rheumatoid factor titre. Disease recurrence occurred in 6/9 responders within 12 months and four patients were subsequently retreated, with major responses again attained. This study provides further evidence that B-cell depletion leads to a significant improvement in disease activity in patients with severe RA and provides data for future trials of HSCT and Rituximab therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Rituximab
  • Safety
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Rituximab