Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Rheumatol. 2008 May;35(5):826-33. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Longterm clinical and immunological effects of anti-CD20 treatment in patients with refractory systemic lupus erythematosus.

Author information

Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Göteborg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.



To retrospectively evaluate longterm clinical and immunological effects of anti-CD20 treatment in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with active nephritis or autoantibody-mediated cytopenias refractory to conventional immunosuppressive treatment.


Anti-CD20 treatment (rituximab) was added to the ongoing immunosuppressive treatment in 31 SLE patients with active nephritis (n = 17), thrombocytopenia (n = 10), and hemolytic anemia (n = 4) refractory to conventional therapy. Disease activity was evaluated by the SLE Disease Activity Index. The median followup time after anti-CD20 treatment was 22 months (range 1-61 mo).


Complete B cell depletion was obtained in all patients. In 11 of the 17 lupus nephritis patients complete or partial responses were achieved after 6-12 months. Eight of these patients increased their glomerular filtration rate (GFR) by > 25%. The responders were characterized by having shorter nephritis duration, a baseline GFR > 30 ml/min, and detectable circulating CD19+ B lymphocytes before B cell depletion. Anti-CD20 treatment was highly effective in patients with autoimmune thrombocytopenia, inducing a significant increase of platelet counts after 1 month (p < 0.01). Five of 10 patients achieved complete normalization of their platelet counts within 6 months. The anti-CD20 treatment was followed by a significant reduction of autoantibodies against dsDNA and platelets, in nephritic and in thrombocytopenic patients, respectively.


Addition of anti-CD20 treatment to conventional immunosuppressive therapy may be a beneficial strategy in refractory lupus nephritis and autoimmune cytopenias, possibly by reducing the levels of pathogenic autoantibodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center