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Blood. 2010 Jul 22;116(3):335-42. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-11-253948. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

Safety and efficacy of rituximab in patients with hepatitis C virus-related mixed cryoglobulinemia and severe liver disease.

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  • 1Center for Systemic Manifestations of Hepatitis Viruses (MaSVE), Department of Internal Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


The effectiveness of rituximab in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC) has been shown. However, the risk of an increase in viral replication limits its use in cirrhosis, a condition frequently observed in patients with MC. In this prospective study, 19 HCV-positive patients with MC and advanced liver disease, who were excluded from antiviral therapy, were treated with rituximab and followed for 6 months. MC symptoms included purpura, arthralgias, weakness, sensory-motor polyneuropathy, nephropathy, and leg ulcers. Liver cirrhosis was observed in 15 of 19 patients, with ascitic decompensation in 6 cases. A consistent improvement in MC syndrome was evident at the end-of-treatment (EOT) and end-of-follow-up (EOF-U). Variable modifications in both mean viral titers and alanine aminotransferase values were observed at admission, EOT, third month of follow-up, and EOF-U (2.62 x 10(6), 4.28 x 10(6), 4.82 x 10(6), and 2.02 x 10(6) IU/mL and 63.6, 49.1, 56.6, and 51.4 IU/L, respectively). Improvement in liver protidosynthetic activity and ascites degree was observed at EOT and EOF-U, especially in more advanced cases. This study shows the effectiveness and safety of rituximab in MC syndrome with advanced liver disease. Moreover, the depletion of CD20(+) B cells was also followed by cirrhosis syndrome improvement despite the possibility of transient increases of viremia titers.

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