Rituximab - shadow, illusion or light?

Autoimmun Rev. 2012 Jun;11(8):563-7. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2011.10.013. Epub 2011 Oct 22.


Rituximab (Rituxan, Mabthera) is a monoclonal therapeutic anti-CD20 antibody approved for use in lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis but not for use in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Nonetheless, over the past decade many reports based on case series and observational studies have suggested benefits in selected groups of SLE patients with this monoclonal. It is also clear that off-label use of rituximab in SLE is not uncommon in many countries in the world. However, two randomized controlled clinical trials of rituximab failed to demonstrate a benefit for this agent, raising important questions on how to assess the potential role of rituximab in SLE. In this article I will review the available data and provide some comments that may be of use for the practicing clinician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy* / trends
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Off-Label Use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rituximab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Rituximab