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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2007 Aug;40(3):273-7. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

Treatment of refractory chronic GVHD with rituximab: a GITMO study.

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Clinica Ematologica DIRM, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Udine, Italy.


The anti-CD20 chimaeric monoclonal antibody Rituximab has recently been shown to induce significant clinical response in a proportion of patients with refractory chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). We now report 38 patients, median age 48 years (22-61), receiving Rituximab for refractory cGVHD, assessed for clinical response and survival. Median duration of cGVHD before Rituximab was 23 months (range 2-116), the median number of failed treatment lines was 3 (range 1 to > or =6) and the median follow-up after Rituximab was 11 months (1-88). Overall response rate was 65%: skin 17/20 (63%), mouth 10/21 (48%), eyes 6/14 (43%), liver 3/12 (25%), lung 3/8 (37.5%), joints 4/5, gut 3/4, thrombocytopaenia 2/3, vagina 0/2, pure red cell aplasia 0/1 and, myasthenia gravis 1/1. During the study period 8/38 died: causes of death were cGVHD progression (n=3), disease relapse (n=1), infection (n=3), sudden death (n=1). The actuarial 2 year survival is currently 76%. We confirm that Rituximab is effective in over 50% of patients with refractory cGVHD and may have a beneficial impact on survival.

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