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Dermatology. 2014;228(2):158-65. doi: 10.1159/000357031. Epub 2014 Feb 15.

Pilot study of 19 patients with severe pemphigus: prophylactic treatment with rituximab does not appear to be beneficial.

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University of Athens Medical School, 2nd Department of Dermatology, Attikon Hospital, Athens, Greece.



To assess the efficacy and safety of rituximab in refractory pemphigus and the possible benefit of an additional prophylactic infusion at 6 months.


Seventeen patients with pemphigus vulgaris, 1 with pemphigus foliaceus and 1 with pemphigus vegetans were treated with 4 weekly infusions of rituximab (375 mg/m(2)). Nine patients received an additional prophylactic infusion after 6 months while the rest received no maintenance therapy. In case of recurrence, an additional single infusion was administered.


Control of the disease was obtained after 3-8 weeks. End of the consolidation phase for all patients was observed after 16 weeks. Patients remained in full remission for 7-42 months. All immunosuppressive agents, including prednisone, were discontinued after 2-12 months. The disease relapsed in 5 out of 9 patients who received the additional prophylactic infusion, and in 3 out of 10 patients among those skipping the prophylactic additional infusion.


One course of rituximab and treatment of relapses is highly effective and well tolerated in the treatment of refractory pemphigus. In this pilot study of 19 patients, the prophylactic infusion does not appear to have provided any additional benefit to the patients receiving it.

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