Rituximab in refractory autoimmune diseases: Brazilian experience with 29 patients (2002-2004)

Clin Exp Rheumatol. Jan-Feb 2006;24(1):65-9.


Objective: Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody against B-lymphocytes that express CD 20, is already available for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Due to the increased relevance of B-cell regulation in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, rituximab is being used in the treatment of patients whose condition is refractory to conventional therapy.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the short-term efficacy and tolerance of rituximab in patients with various autoimmune diseases who were treated at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in the city of Sao Paulo.

Results: During the period 2002-2004, 29 patients with various autoimmune diseases were treated with rituximab 375 mg/m2 for 4 consecutive weeks, or two doses of 1 g 2 weeks apart. We observed remarkable short-term results in all cases, except for one patient with thrombocytopenic purpura. Of note, we describe the results in two patients with diseases not previously treated with rituximab (hypergammaglobulinemic purpura of Waldenstrom and eosinophilic fasciitis with hypergammaglobulinemia). Treatment was well tolerated, with no unexpected adverse events. We also observed a marked reduction in steroid dosage.

Conclusion: Rituximab seems to be safe and effective in the treatment of patients with a variety of autoimmune diseases that are refractory to other modalities of treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / drug therapy
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / physiopathology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology
  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / diagnosis
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / drug therapy
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rituximab
  • Treatment Outcome


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