Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) in off-trial patients.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter prospective study of patients with JDM included in the French Autoimmunity and Rituximab (AIR) registry.
Results: Nine patients with severe JDM were studied. The main indication for RTX treatment was severe and/or refractory muscle involvement (7 patients), severe calcinosis (1 patient), or severe chronic abdominal pain associated with abdominal lipomatosis (1 patient). RTX was associated with corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, and plasma exchange therapy in 9/9, 5/9, and 2/9 patients, respectively. Mild infections of the calcinosis sites occurred in 2 patients and an infusion-related event in 1. Complete clinical response was achieved in 3/6 patients treated with RTX for muscle involvement. In these responders steroid therapy was stopped or tapered to < 15% of the baseline dosage, with no relapse, with a followup ranging from 1.3 to 3 years. Calcinosis did not improve in the 6 affected patients.
Conclusion: This small series suggests that rituximab may be effective for treating muscle and skin involvement in a small subset of children with severe JDM, and that its safety profile was satisfactory. Further studies are needed to identify predictive factors of response to RTX in patients with severe JDM.