Outcomes of combination therapy including rituximab for antibody-mediated rejection after lung transplantation

Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2020 Feb;68(2):142-149. doi: 10.1007/s11748-019-01189-1. Epub 2019 Aug 21.


Objectives: This study assessed the outcomes of combination therapy including rituximab for antibody-mediated rejection after lung transplantation.

Methods: Retrospective chart reviews were performed for all patients who received combination therapy including rituximab for post-lung transplantation antibody-mediated rejection between June 2008 and October 2018.

Results: Among the 196 consecutive patients undergoing lung transplantation during the study period, eight (4.1%) were eligible for this study. Two patients (25.0%) were classified as having clinically definite antibody-mediated rejection and six (75.0%) as having possible antibody-mediated rejection. Prior to treatment, four patients (50.0%) met the definition of chronic lung allograft dysfunction; seven of the eight patients (87.5%) remained alive at 6 months and four (50.0%) at 12 months after antibody-mediated rejection. All patients identified as having chronic lung allograft dysfunction, prior to the treatment, died of allograft failure, or underwent re-transplantation. Decreases in the mean fluorescence intensities of the major donor-specific antibodies were observed in three patients. One patient, diagnosed with clinical antibody-mediated rejection but without pre-treatment chronic lung allograft dysfunction, began treatment relatively soon after lung transplantation, and demonstrated improved respiratory function at the 3-year follow-up.

Conclusions: Our experience suggests that multimodality therapy that includes rituximab is feasible and may prevent progression of antibody-mediated rejection after lung transplantation in selected patients.

Keywords: Antibody-mediated rejection; Chronic lung allograft dysfunction; Donor-specific antibody; Mean fluorescence intensity; Rituximab.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection / drug therapy*
  • Graft Rejection / etiology
  • Graft Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasmapheresis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Rituximab