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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 80  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 300--305

Intermediate doses of rituximab used as adjuvant therapy in refractory pemphigus


Department of Dermatology, Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Pradnya J Londhe
Opp. Block no. A- 368, Nagsen Nagar, Kurla Camp, Ulhasnagar - 421 004, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.136832

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Background: Rituximab, a monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody, has been used with encouraging results in pemphigus. We describe herein refractory cases of pemphigus vulgaris (n = 23) and pemphigus foliaceus (n = 1) treated with rituximab in addition to steroids and immunosuppressants. Aims: To assess the response to treatment, the duration of clinical remission, serology of the response and adverse effects of rituximab in pemphigus patients. Methods: We recorded observations of 24 patients with pemphigus having either refractory disease in spite of high dose of steroids and immunosuppressants, corticosteroid-dependent disease, strong contraindications to corticosteroids, or severe disease. The patients were treated with infusions of one injection per week for three consecutive weeks of 375 mg of rituximab per m 2 of body-surface area. One similar infusion was repeated after 3 months of 3 rd dose. We observed the clinical outcome after 6 months of 3 rd dose of rituximab and looked for complete healing of cutaneous and mucosal lesions (complete remission). Observations: After follow-up of 7-24 months, five patients showed only partial improvement while 19 of 24 patients had a complete remission 3 months after rituximab. Of these 19 patients, 12 patients achieved complete remission and are off all systemic therapy, and the rest are continuing with no or low dose of steroids with immunosuppressants. Two patients relapsed after initial improvement; one was given moderate dose of oral steroids and immunosuppressant and the other was given repeat single dose of rituximab to control relapse. Conclusion: Rituximab is able to induce a prolonged clinical remission in pemphigus after a single course of four infusions. The high cost and limited knowledge of long term adverse effects are limitations to the use of this biologic agent.






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