Rituximab treatment for adults with refractory nephrotic syndrome: a single-center experience and review of the literature

Nephron Clin Pract. 2012;120(2):c79-85. doi: 10.1159/000335142. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


Background/aims: Minimal change disease (MCD) and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) are common causes of nephrotic syndrome (NS) in adults. However, induction of remission and sustained control of proteinuria is often difficult. Recently, B cell-directed therapy using the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab has been suggested as induction regimen in pediatric FSGS and MCD patients. Data on rituximab use in adults are still limited.

Methods: We report on rituximab use in five consecutively treated adult patients (mean age 42.2 ± 9.9 years) with FSGS or relapsing MCD (2 FSGS, 3 MCD) who failed to respond to standard immunosuppressive treatment. Median follow-up was 8 months (3-25).

Results: Rituximab induced complete remission in 2 MCD patients and partial remission in 3 patients. Proteinuria was reduced by 86.8% (42.9-95.2) 3 months and by 73.0% (60.1-95.5) 6 months after therapy. In 1 patient with severe FSGS, partial remission was not evident before 6 months after rituximab treatment. Relapses occurred in 2 patients. No severe adverse events related to rituximab were observed.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that B cell-directed therapies are novel treatment options for adults with refractory NS. Response to rituximab varied, with MCD patients exhibiting a faster and more pronounced response compared to FSGS patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / diagnosis*
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Rituximab
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome


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