Rituximab targets normal B cells and tumor B cells. We used a unique data-mining tool to identify patients with lymphoma who were treated with rituximab and who had serial pre and post rituximab immunoglobulin concentrations evaluated. After treatment, 39% (69/179) of patients had low levels of immunoglobulin G. Recurrent sinopulmonary infections were seen in 6.6% (14/211). Intravenous immune globulin appeared to reduce the frequency of infection.
Background: Rituximab has altered the treatment approach to B-cell malignancies and other diseases. Reports consider that rituximab had limited impact on serum immunoglobulins. However, anecdotes suggest that rituximab can cause symptomatic hypogammaglobulinemia. This retrospective study examined the relationship among rituximab, hypogammaglobulinemia, and treatment of symptomatic hypogammaglobulinemia with intravenous immune globulin (IVIG).
Methods: Patients with serial quantitative serum immunoglobulin (SIgG) concentrations before and subsequent to rituximab administration at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center were identified. Information regarding rituximab administration, SIgG concentrations, frequency of infection, and administration of IVIG were recorded.
Results: Between December 1998 and April 2009, 211 patients with B-cell lymphoma treated with rituximab and with serial SIgG concentrations were identified. One hundred seventy-nine (85%) patients had normal SIgG before rituximab, 32 (15%) had low SIgG. After rituximab use, hypogammaglobulinemia was identified in 38.54% of patients with initially normal SIgG. The risk was greater in patients who received maintenance rituximab. Symptomatic hypogammaglobulinemia that prompted IVIG administration developed in 6.6% of patients.
Conclusions: In this data set, rituximab administration was associated with a high frequency of hypogammaglobulinemia, particularly symptomatic hypogammaglobulinemia, among patients who received multiple courses of rituximab. Baseline and periodic monitoring of SIgGs is appropriate in patients who receive rituximab.
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