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Arthritis Res Ther. 2013 Sep 24;15(5):R133. doi: 10.1186/ar4313.

Rituximab in the treatment of refractory or relapsing eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss syndrome).

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA) is part of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs)-associated vasculitides. In EGPA small-vessel vasculitis is associated with eosinophilia and asthma. About 40% of EGPA patients are ANCA-positive, suggesting a role for B cells in the pathogenesis of EGPA. B cell-depleting therapy with rituximab (RTX) can be effective in ANCA-positive EGPA, but very few patients have been published to date. The role of RTX in the treatment of ANCA-negative EGPA is unclear.

METHODS:

We report a single-center cohort of patients with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Of these patients, nine (six ANCA-positive, three ANCA-negative) had been treated with RTX for relapsing or refractory disease on standard immunosuppressive treatment. In a retrospective analysis, data on treatment response, frequency of relapses, adverse events, and peripheral B-cell reconstitution were evaluated. Furthermore, serum immunoglobulin concentrations, ANCA status, and peripheral B cell subpopulations were assessed after RTX treatment.

RESULTS:

All patients had high disease activity before RTX treatment. At presentation 3 months after RTX therapy, all ANCA-positive and ANCA-negative patients had responded to RTX, with one patient being in complete remission, and eight patients being in partial remission. After a mean follow-up of 9 months, C-reactive protein concentrations had normalized, eosinophils had significantly decreased, and prednisone had been tapered in all patients. In all patients, RTX therapy was combined with a standard immunosuppressive therapy. Within the 9-month observation period, no relapse was recorded. Three patients were preemptively retreated with RTX, and during the median follow-up time of 3 years, no relapse occurred in these patients. During the follow-up of 13 patient-years, five minor but no major infections were recorded.

CONCLUSIONS:

In our analysis on nine patients with EGPA resistant to standard therapy, rituximab proved to be an efficient and safe treatment for ANCA-positive and ANCA-negative patients. Preemptive retreatment with RTX, combined with standard maintenance immunosuppressants, resulted in a sustained treatment response. Prospective, randomized trials evaluating the use of RTX in EGPA are warranted.

PMID:
24286362
PMCID:
PMC3979021
DOI:
10.1186/ar4313
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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