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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2005 Jul;36(2):91-7.

Rituximab mediates in vitro antileukemic activity in pediatric patients after allogeneic transplantation.

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Department of Pediatric Oncology, University Children's Hospital, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.


Relapse is a major problem after allogeneic transplantation in children with acute B-lineage lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) and lymphomas and additional therapeutic strategies are needed to increase graft versus leukemia effects without inducing graft versus host disease (GvHD). Several studies have shown the efficacy of a humanized CD20 antibody (rituximab) for treatment of CD20+ malignancies together with conventional chemotherapy but less is known about its post transplant usefulness. We studied the ability of rituximab to mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) with effector cells and complement from patients who were transplanted with T-cell-depleted grafts from unrelated or mismatched related donors. Highest lytic activity (ADCC) was observed against leukemia-derived MHH4 cells and Burkitt's lymphoma-derived Raji cells in the first months after transplantation, corresponding to the high percentage of regenerating CD56+ CD16+ cells. Moreover, primary cryopreserved ALL-blasts from a pediatric patient were also efficiently lysed. Increased lysis was obtained after stimulation with interleukin-2. Combination of ADCC and CDC had additive effects. These findings encourage clinical trials on the use of rituximab for improving minimal residual disease control and relapse prevention after allogeneic high-risk transplantation in the small group of pediatric patients with CD20+ leukemias/lymphomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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