Effectiveness and Safety of Rituximab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Case Series Describing the Experience of 2 Centers

Reumatol Clin (Engl Ed). Sep-Oct 2020;16(5 Pt 2):391-395. doi: 10.1016/j.reuma.2018.08.012. Epub 2018 Dec 3.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs and systems. B cells have a critical role in the pathogenesis of SLE. Rituximab (RTX) is a drug composed of chimeric monoclonal antibodies against the CD20 protein, producing a depletion of B lymphocytes.

Objective: To analyze the effectiveness and safety of RTX in patients with SLE in clinical practice.

Methods: Collection of retrospective variables of the medical records of 20 patients with SLE treated with RTX in 2hospitals (Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, and Hospital del Mar, in Barcelona, Spain). We evaluated demographic, clinical, serological and treatment variables.

Results: There was a statistically significant association in the following variables collected in the study before and after treatment: there was a decrease in the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) (P<.001), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (P=.017), use of glucocorticoids (P=.025) and IgM values (P=.031), as well as an increase in the C4 values (P=.014) after treatment with RTX. A patient with SLE, antiphospholipid syndrome, complex comorbidity and multiorgan lupus involvement died after developing a septic process, months after receiving a single treatment cycle with RTX.

Conclusions: Although RTX currently has no official indication approved for SLE, our data suggest that it may be effective in reducing the activity of the disease and as a steroid-sparing agent, with an acceptable safety profile. However, larger follow-up periods with a greater number of patients are needed to solve the remaining doubts about the use of RTX in SLE.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; B-lymphocytes; Efectividad; Effectiveness; Enfermedades autoinmunes; Linfocitos B; Lupus eritematoso sistémico; Rituximab; Safety; Seguridad; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / adverse effects
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rituximab / adverse effects
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Rituximab