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Tuesday 01 October 2002

Rituximab-based chemotherapy for steroid-refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

By: Gupta N, Kavuru S, Patel D, Janson D, Driscoll N, Ahmed S, Rai KR.

Leukemia 2002 Oct;16(10):2092-5

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is a well known complication of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Steroids are the first line of treatment and there are limited effective treatment options for steroid refractory AIHA of CLL. Rituximab, an active agent against B cell malignancies, has also been noted to be active in certain autoimmune hematologic disorders. We used a combination of rituximab, cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone (RCD) in eight CLL patients with steroid refractory AIHA. Rituximab was given at a dose of 375 mg/m(2) i.v. on day 1 (D-1). Cyclophosphamide was given at a dose of 750 mg/m(2) on D-2. Twelve mg of dexamethasone was given i.v. on D-1, D-2 and orally from D-3 to D-7. Cycles were repeated every 4 weeks till the best response. Response in AIHA was evaluated by frequent blood counts and Coombs test. All eight patients achieved a remission of their AIHA. Median pretreatment hemoglobin was 8.3 g/dl and post-treatment hemoglobin was 14.3 g/dl. Five patients converted to Coombs negative after RCD. Median duration of response was 13 months (7-23+). Retreatment with RCD was also effective in achieving a response on relapse of AIHA. Our results indicate that a rituximab-based combination regimen (RCD) is highly effective in treating steroid refractory AIHA of CLL.

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