Rituximab, an anti-cd20 monoclonal antibody: history and mechanism of action

Am J Transplant. 2006 May;6(5 Pt 1):859-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2006.01288.x.


Rituximab, chimeric anti-human CD20, is approved for treatment of B-cell lymphoma in adults. It is being used experimentally in other various immune-related diseases such as immune thrombocytopenic purpura, systemic lupus erythematosus, myasthenia gravis and rheumatoid arthritis. In transplant recipients, it is used for treatment of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease, to anecdotally reduce pre-formed anti-HLA and anti-ABO antibodies and for the prevention and treatment of acute rejection. This article primarily reviews the science behind rituximab: its history, pharmacokinetics and potential mechanism of action. A need for controlled clinical trials is clearly indicated before the widespread use of this drug in transplant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20 / chemistry
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Myasthenia Gravis / drug therapy
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / drug therapy
  • Rituximab
  • Transplantation Immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Rituximab