Rituximab Desensitization in Pediatric Patients: Results of a Case Series

Pediatr Allergy Immunol Pulmonol. 2016 Jun 1;29(2):91-94. doi: 10.1089/ped.2015.0615.


Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody (mAb) primarily used to treat oncologic and autoinflammatory conditions. Although hypersensitivity reactions (HSRs) and desensitization protocols to mAbs have been well described in adults, the experience in the pediatric population is very limited. We sought to determine the safety and efficacy of desensitization to rituximab in the pediatric population at our institution. We retrospectively reviewed the experience with HSRs and desensitization to rituximab during a 5-year period in our tertiary care pediatric center, including reaction evaluation, premedication regimens, and desensitization procedures and protocols. A total of 17 desensitizations to rituximab were performed in three patients. A 14-year-old patient underwent successful desensitization to rituximab using a published adult protocol without incident. Two younger patients (ages 7 years and 23 months) experienced significant reactions during initial desensitization attempts. Therefore, we designed a modified desensitization protocol to rituximab, with particular attention to the rate of infusion as mg/kg/h. This new patient weight-based protocol was successfully used in a total of 13 desensitizations in these two patients. Desensitization to rituximab was a safe and effective procedure in our pediatric population. We present a new patient weight-based desensitization protocol for pediatric patients who develop HSRs to rituximab, with particular usefulness for younger pediatric patients and potential utility in pediatric patients with HSRs to other mAbs.