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Rheumatol Int. 2007 Nov;28(1):33-7. Epub 2007 Jun 12.

B-cell depletion in patients with rheumatoid arthritis refractant to multiple TNF blockers and the interleukin 1 receptor-antagonist anakinra. Good responses in an extreme negative selection.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II (Rheumatology, Immunology, Hematology, Oncology, Pulmology), University Hospital, Otfried-Mueller-Str. 10, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


To evaluate the efficacy of Rituximab in a negatively selected patient cohort, with inadequate response to different disease modifying drugs (DMARDs) and to at least two biologicals. Fifteen patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis with inefficacy of an average of 5 DMARDS and 2.5 TNF antagonists were treated with Rituximab. Eight patients were ineffectively pretreated with Anakinra as well. The disease activity score (DAS28) and the morning stiffness served for assessment of the clinical response. For maintenance treatment different conventional DMARDs were used (4xMTX, 4xLeflunomide, 1xmycophenolate, 1xsirolimus, 1xhydroxychloroquine). At baseline visit the mean DAS 28 was 5.9. The mean duration of morning stiffness was 99.6 min. At month 6 the mean DAS28 was 3.95. Forty percent (6 patients) showed a good and 33% (5 patients) a moderate response. Morning stiffness improved to 43 min. In this negatively selected group of patients Rituximab was safe and effective.

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