Rituximab (RTX) is a monoclonal antibody directed against the CD20 antigen expressed on B cells. This drug has been successfully employed in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and different systemic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's) and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis. At present, RTX may be used in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who qualify for treatment with tumor necrosis factor blockers and have had an inadequate response or intolerance to one or more of these agents. In ophthalmology, there is a growing amount of literature which suggests that RTX may be useful for inflammatory ocular diseases. Only few cases have been reported on treatment of ocular inflammatory disease mostly refractory scleritis, peripheral ulcerative keratitis, uveitis in adulthood and in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. RTX has also been employed in ocular surface diseases such as ocular cicatricial pemphigoid and conjunctival lymphoma. The tolerability and safety of RTX is good with the most common adverse events encountered being infusion reactions. RTX may be effective in the treatment of ocular inflammatory diseases, in particular the most aggressive, recalcitrant and sight-threatening forms of inflammation and uveitis. Although further studies are needed to assess the efficacy of RTX and the exact dosing regimen, RTX may be considered as a treatment alternative in patients with the most aggressive forms of inflammatory ocular diseases who fail to respond to conventional and other biologic agents.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.