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Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2006 Mar;14(1):18-23.

Immunophenotypic changes and clinical outcome in B-cell lymphomas treated with rituximab.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Rituximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody that recognizes the CD20 antigen and is used to treat B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL). Few studies have been published examining the use of antibody panels to evaluate B-NHL treated with rituximab. The authors performed a retrospective analysis of immunophenotypic changes and clinical outcome in 18 patients with B-NHL following rituximab therapy. The intensity of CD20 expression was evaluated by flow cytometry and/or immunohistochemistry, before and after rituximab therapy; the latter samples were taken 5 to 12 months after initiating rituximab therapy (median 7 months). Nine of the 18 patients (50%) achieved complete or partial clinical remission and did not have morphologic evidence of lymphoma in the post-therapy samples. The other nine patients (50%) had persistent disease. Two patterns of CD20 expression were noted in the post-therapy samples: unchanged expression of CD20 in neoplastic cells (4/9 cases) and loss of or a significant decrease in detected CD20 expression in neoplastic cells (5/9 cases). These results show that in many cases of B-NHL persisting after rituximab therapy, CD20 expression decreases or is lost, raising the possibility of deletion or expression modulation of the CD20 gene in neoplastic cells. This study also underscores the importance of using a panel of antibodies to evaluate rituximab-treated B-NHL.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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