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Rituximab: An emerging therapeutic agent for kidney transplantation

Authors Kahwaji J, Tong C, Jordan SC, Vo A

Published 19 October 2009 Volume 2009:1 Pages 15—29


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Joseph Kahwaji, Chris Tong, Stanley C Jordan, Ashley A Vo

Comprehensive Transplant Center, Transplant immunology Laboratory, HLA Laboratory, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Abstract: Rituximab (anti-CD20, anti-B-cell) is now emerging as an important drug for modification of B-cell and antibody responses in solid-organ transplant recipients. Its uses are varied and range from facilitating desensitization and ABO blood group-incompatible transplantation to the treatment of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR), post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD), and recurrent glomerular diseases in the renal allograft. Despite these uses, prospective randomized trials are lacking. Only case reports exist in regards to its use in de novo and recurrent diseases in the renal allograft. Recent reports suggests that the addition of rituximab to intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) may have significant benefits for desensitization and treatment of AMR and chronic rejection. Current dosing recommendations are based on data from United States Food and Drug Administration-approved indications for treatment of B-cell lymphomas and rheumatoid arthritis. From the initial reported experience in solid organ transplant recipients, the drug is well tolerated and not associated with increased infectious risks. However, close monitoring for viral infections is recommended with rituximab use. The occurrence of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) has been reported with rituximab use. However, this is rare and not reported in the renal transplant population. Here we will review current information regarding the effectiveness of rituximab as an agent for desensitization of highly human leukocyte antigen-sensitized and ABO-incompatible transplant recipients and its use in treatment of AMR. In addition, the post-transplant use of rituximab for treatment of PTLD and for recurrent and de novo glomerulonephritis in the allograft will be discussed. In summary, we will make recommendations based on existing literature and our extensive experience at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for using rituximab in renal transplantation.

Keywords: kidney transplant, rituximab, desensitization, rejection, review

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