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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Apr 15;19(8):2153-64.

Rituximab using a thrice weekly dosing schedule in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma demonstrates clinical activity and acceptable toxicity.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine and the Department of Clinical Investigation, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.



Rituximab has been reported to have little activity in small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)/chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and to be associated with significant infusion-related toxicity. This study sought to decrease the initial toxicity and optimize the pharmacokinetics with an alternative treatment schedule.


Thirty three patients with SLL/CLL received dose 1 of rituximab (100 mg) over 4 hours. In cohort I (n = 3; 250 mg/m(2)) and cohort II (n = 7; 375 mg/m(2)) rituximab was administered on day 3 and thereafter three times weekly for 4 weeks using a standard administration schedule. Cohort III (n = 23; 375 mg/m(2)) administered rituximab similar to cohort II for the first two treatments and then over 1 hour thereafter.


A total of 33 CLL/SLL patients were enrolled; only one patient discontinued therapy because of infusion-related toxicity. Thirteen patients developed transient hypoxemia, hypotension, or dyspnea that were associated with significant changes in baseline interleukin-6, interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon gamma compared with those not experiencing such reactions. Infusion-related toxicity occurred more commonly in older (median age 73 v 62 years; P =.02) patients with no other pretreatment clinical or laboratory features predicting occurrence of these events. The overall response rate was 45% (3% CR, 42% PR; 95% CI 28% to 64%). Median response duration for these 15 patients was 10 months (95% CI, 6.8-13.2; range, 3 to 17+).


Rituximab administered thrice weekly for 4 weeks demonstrates clinical efficacy and acceptable toxicity. Initial infusion-related events seem to be cytokine mediated and resolve by the third infusion making rapid administration possible. Future combination studies of rituximab with other therapies in CLL seem warranted.

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