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Saturday 15 July 2006

Rituximab for steroid-refractory chronic graft-versus-host disease.

By: Cutler C, Miklos D, Kim HT, Treister N, Woo SB, Bienfang D, Klickstein LB, Levin J, Miller K, Reynolds C, Macdonell R, Pasek M, Lee SJ, Ho V, Soiffer R, Antin JH, Ritz J, Alyea E.

Blood 2006 Jul 15;108(2):756-62

B cells may be implicated in the pathophysiology of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), as evidenced by antibody production against sex-mismatched, Y chromosome-encoded minor HLA antigens in association with chronic GVHD. We therefore designed a phase 1/2 study of anti-B-cell therapy with rituximab in steroid-refractory chronic GVHD. Twenty-one patients were treated with 38 cycles of rituximab. Rituximab was tolerated well, and toxicity was limited to infectious events. The clinical response rate was 70%, including 2 patients with complete responses. Responses were limited to patients with cutaneous and musculoskeletal manifestations of chronic GVHD and were durable through 1 year after therapy. The median dose of prednisone among treated subjects fell from 40 mg/day to 10 mg/day, 1 year after rituximab therapy (P < .001). A chronic GVHD symptom score improved in the majority of treated patients. Antibody titers against Y chromosome-encoded minor HLA antigens fell and remained low, whereas titers against infectious antigens (EBV, tetanus) remained stable or rose during the treatment period. We conclude that specific anti-B-cell therapy with rituximab may be beneficial for patients with steroidrefractory chronic GVHD. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00136396.

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