Anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody therapy in postpartum women with neurological conditions

Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2023 Nov;10(11):2053-2064. doi: 10.1002/acn3.51893. Epub 2023 Sep 7.


Objective: Postpartum, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) have increased risk for disease activity. Anti-CD20 IgG1 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are increasingly used as disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). Patients may wish to both breastfeed and resume DMT postpartum. This study aimed to determine the transfer of anti-CD20 IgG1 mAbs, ocrelizumab, and rituximab (OCR/RTX), into mature breastmilk and describe maternal and infant outcomes.

Methods: Fifty-seven cis-women receiving OCR/RTX after 59 pregnancies and their infants were enrolled and followed up to 12M postpartum or 90 days post-infusion. Breastmilk was collected pre-infusion and serially up to 90 days and assayed for mAb concentration. Medical records and patients' questionnaire responses were obtained to assess neurologic, breastfeeding, and infant development outcomes.

Results: The median average concentration of mAb in breastmilk was low (OCR: 0.08 μg/mL, range 0.05-0.4; RTX: 0.03 μg/mL, range 0.005-0.3). Concentration peaked 1-7 days post-infusion in most (77%) and was nearly undetectable after 90 days. Median average relative infant dose was <1% (OCR: 0.1%, range 0.07-0.7; RTX: 0.04%, range 0.005-0.3). Forty-three participants continued to breastfeed post-infusion. At 8-12 months, the proportion of infants' growth between the 3rd and 97th World Health Organization percentiles did not differ for breastfed (36/40) and non-breastfed (14/16, p > 0.05) infants; neither did the proportion with normal development (breastfed: 37/41, non-breastfed: 11/13; p > 0.05). After postpartum infusion, two mothers experienced a clinical relapse.

Interpretation: These confirm minimal transfer of mAb into breastmilk. Anti-CD20 mAb therapy stabilizes MS activity before conception to the postpartum period, and postpartum treatments appears to be safe and well-tolerated for both mother and infant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Infant
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / drug therapy
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Rituximab
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G