Rituximab in the treatment of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 May;79(5):709-19. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12498.


Rituximab is a B-cell depleting monoclonal antibody that is gaining popularity as an effective therapy for many autoimmune cytopenias. This article systematically evaluates its therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of different types of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. We conclude that there is sufficient evidence to recommend it as a second line therapy for warm autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (wAIHA) either as monotherapy or combined therapy. Evidence from a single randomized controlled trial suggests that it may also be more efficacious as first line therapy in combination with steroids than steroids alone. A fewer number of studies have assessed its role in cold autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (cAIHA) and cold agglutinin disease (CAD) with success rates varying from 45-66%. In the absence of alternative definitive therapy, rituximab should be considered for patients with symptomatic CAD and significant haemolysis. Case reports of its efficacy in mixed autoimmune haemolytic anaemias are available but evidence from case series or larger cohorts are nonexistent.

Keywords: autoimmune haemolytic anaemia; cold agglutinin disease; rituximab.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / blood
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Rituximab / administration & dosage
  • Rituximab / adverse effects
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Autoantibodies
  • Hemoglobins
  • Rituximab