Rituximab for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia
M Gentile, E Vigna, C Mazzone, E Lucia, AG Recchia, L Morabito2, MG Bisconte, C Gentile, F Morabito
1UOC di Ematologia, Azienda Ospedaliera di Cosenza, Italy; 2Servicio de Hematología y Hemoterapia, Hospital Universitario de Canarias, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Abstract: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a lymphoproliferative disorder that originates from antigen-experienced B lymphocytes that do not die and hence accumulate due to external survival signals or undergo apoptosis and are replenished by proliferating precursors. These neoplastic lymphocytes exhibit a characteristic immunophenotype of CD5+/CD19+/CD20+/HLA-DR+/CD23+/sIgdim. Thus, the CD20 antigen has been an appealing target for therapy. The introduction of the monoclonal antibody rituximab (anti-CD20) enabled an outstanding advance in CLL treatment. The introduction of this monoclonal antibody into chemotherapy regimens has dramatically improved complete response rates and progression-free survival in patients with both untreated and relapsed CLL. Although only preliminary data from phase III confirmatory trials have been reported, the FCR regimen, which combines fludarabine and cyclophosphamide with rituximab, is currently the most effective treatment regimen for CLL patients, and has also been demonstrated to significantly improve overall survival . The success of rituximab and the identification of other CLL lymphocyte surface antigens have spurred the development of a multitude of monoclonal antibodies targeting distinct proteins and epitopes in an attempt to target CLL cells more effectively.
Keywords: rituximab, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chemotherapy