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Tuesday 01 July 2003

Rituximab in idiopathic membranous nephropathy: a one-year prospective study.

By: Ruggenenti P, Chiurchiu C, Brusegan V, Abbate M, Perna A, Filippi C, Remuzzi G.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2003 Jul;14(7):1851-7

Currently available monoclonal antibodies against the B cell surface antigen CD20 have been employed to explore whether specific inhibition of B cells may help improve the outcome of idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) and may avoid the side effects of steroids and immunosuppressants. This prospective, observational study evaluated the 1-yr outcome of eight IMN patients with persistent (>6 mo) urinary protein excretion > 3.5 g/24 h given four weekly infusions of the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab (375 mg/m(2)). At 3 and 12 mo, proteinuria significantly decreased from mean (+/- SD) 8.6 +/- 4.2 to 4.3 +/- 3.3 (-51%, P < 0.005) and 3.0 +/- 2.5 (-66%, P < 0.005) g/24 h, albumin fractional clearance from 2.3 +/- 2.1 to 1.2 +/- 1.7 (-47%, P < 0.05) and 0.5 +/- 0.6 (-76%, P < 0.003), and serum albumin concentration increased from 2.7 +/- 0.5 to 3.1 +/- 0.3 (+21%, P < 0.05) and 3.5 +/- 0.4 (+41%, P < 0.05) mg/dl. At 12 mo, proteinuria decreased to < or =0.5 g/24 h or < or =3.5 g/24 h in two and three patients, respectively. Proteinuria decreased in the remaining patients by 74%, 44%, and 41%, respectively. Body weight, diastolic BP, and serum cholesterol progressively decreased in parallel with an improvement of edema in all patients. Renal function stabilized (Delta1/creatinine: +0.002 +/- 0.007). CD20 B lymphocytes fell below normal ranges up to study-end. No patient had major drug-related events or major changes in other laboratory parameters. Rituximab thus promotes sustained disease remission in patients otherwise predicted to progress to ESRD, and it is safe. The long-term risk/benefit profile of this novel, disease-specific approach seems much more favorable to that of commonly employed immunosuppressive drugs.

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