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Am J Transplant. 2008 Dec;8(12):2607-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2008.02411.x. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

A randomized, prospective trial of rituximab for acute rejection in pediatric renal transplantation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA, USA.


We report 1-year outcomes of a randomized study of Rituximab versus standard-of-care immunosuppression (Thymoglobulin and/or pulse steroids) for treatment of biopsy confirmed, acute transplant rejection with B-cell infiltrates, in 20 consecutive recipients (2-23 years). Graft biopsies, with Banff and CADI scores, CD20 and C4d stains, were performed at rejection and 1 and 6 months later. Peripheral blood CMV, EBV and BK viral loads, graft function, DSA, immunoglobulins, serum humanized antichimeric antibody (HACA) and Rituximab, and lymphocyte counts were monitored until 1 year posttreatment. Rituximab infusions were given with a high index of safety without HACA development and increased infections complications. Rituximab therapy resulted in complete tissue B-cell depletion and rapid peripheral B-cell depletion. Peripheral CD19 cells recovered at a mean time of approximately 12 months. There were some benefits for the recovery of graft function (p = 0.026) and improvement of biopsy rejection scores at both the 1- (p = 0.0003) and 6-month (p < 0.0001) follow-up biopsies. Reappearance of C4d deposition was not seen on follow-up biopsies after Rituximab therapy, but was seen in 30% of control patients. There was no change in DSA in either group, independent of rejection resolution. This study reports safety and suggests further investigation of Rituximab as an adjunctive treatment for B-cell-mediated graft rejection.

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