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Sunday 01 February 2004

Rituximab as adjuvant to high-dose therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation for aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

By: Horwitz SM, Negrin RS, Blume KG, Breslin S, Stuart MJ, Stockerl-Goldstein KE, Johnston LJ, Wong RM, Shizuru JA, Horning SJ.

Blood 2004 Feb 1;103(3):777-83

Based on the favorable safety profile and the independent activity of rituximab in B-cell lymphoma, we evaluated its efficacy and toxicity after high-dose therapy (HDT) and autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Thirty-five patients with diffuse large cell (25 patients), mantle cell (3 patients), transformed (3 patients), or other (4 patients) subtypes of B-cell lymphoma received HDT followed by a purged autologous graft. The rituximab schedule was 4 weekly infusions (375 mg/m(2)) starting at day 42 after HCT and, for patients 5 to 35, a second 4-week course 6 months after HCT. All planned therapy was completed in 29 patients. With 30 months' median follow-up, the 2-year event-free survival (EFS) rate was 83% and the overall survival (OS) rate was 88%. For 21 patients with relapsed or refractory large cell lymphoma, the EFS rate was 81% and the OS rate was 85%. Grades 3 to 4 neutropenia occurred in 19 (54%) patients. A prospective study of immune reconstitution included measurements of lymphocyte subsets, immunoglobulins, and response to vaccination. Serious infections were not observed despite delayed B-cell recovery in all patients and suppressed immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels and low pneumococcus antibody titers in a subset. Rituximab after HDT and HCT is feasible, and these phase 2 data support the current US Intergroup phase 3 trial in recurrent/refractory diffuse large cell lymphoma.

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