Objective: Rituximab (RTX), a chimeric mAb directed against the B-cell marker CD20, was investigated for its anti-inflammatory effect in treating refractory uveitis associated with JIA.
Methods: Case series, retrospective multicentre. JIA patients with severe uveitis with vision-threatening complications (n = 10) and with insidious onset. All patients were treated with RTX for active uveitis refractory to topical and systemic CSs, immunosuppressives and at least one of the TNF-α inhibitors. All had active arthritis. Uveitis and arthritis course were assessed before and after RTX treatment.
Results: After one RTX cycle (mean follow-up 11 months, range 7-18 months), uveitis inactivity was achieved in seven oligoarthritis patients (ANA⁺, HLA-B27⁻) for a prolonged period of time (mean 7.5 months, range 6-9 months). Therefore, CSs and immunosuppression could be spared. In three of four patients responding to RTX, uveitis recurred thereafter, and RTX re-treatment led to inactivity again. In another three patients (ANA⁺ polyarthritis, n = 1; ANA⁺ HLA-B27⁺ oligo- or polyarthritis, n = 2) uveitis activity persisted after RTX therapy. In seven patients, arthritis improved or was inactive after RTX treatment (PedACR30/50/70).
Conclusion: RTX may represent a rescue therapy option for severe JIA-associated uveitis refractory to CSs, immunosuppression and TNF-α inhibitors.