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Spotlight on rituximab in the treatment of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis: current perspectives

Authors Moog P, Thuermel K

Received 16 September 2015

Accepted for publication 9 November 2015

Published 27 November 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 1749—1758


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh

Philipp Moog, Klaus Thuermel

Abteilung für Nephrologie, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

Abstract: A 54-year-old patient presented to his general practitioner because of strong muscle pain in both thighs. Inflammatory parameters (CRP 16.3 mg/dL) and white blood cells (15 g/L) were elevated. The patient reported a weight loss of 10 kg in 4 weeks. There was no fever or any other specific symptoms. Urine dipstick examination and computed tomography of the chest were unremarkable. Because of increasing symptoms, the patient was referred to our department. Magnetic resonance tomography showed diffuse inflammatory changes of the muscles of both thighs. Neurological examination and electrophysiology revealed axonal sensorimotor neuropathy and ground-glass opacities of both lungs had occurred. Serum creatinine increased to 229 µmol/L within a few days, with proteinuria of 3.3 g/g creatinine. Kidney biopsy showed diffuse pauci-immune proliferative glomerulonephritis. Proteinase 3-specific antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies were markedly increased. Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score was 35. Within 2 days, serum creatinine further increased to 495 µmol/L. Plasma exchange, high-dose glucocorticosteroids, and hemodialysis were started. The patient received cyclophosphamide 1 g twice and rituximab 375 mg/m2 four times according to the RITUXVAS protocol. Despite ongoing therapy, hemodialysis could not be withdrawn and had to be continued over 3 weeks until diuresis normalized. Glucocorticosteroids were tapered to 20 mg after 2 months, and serum creatinine was 133 µmol/L. However, nephritic urinary sediment reappeared. Another dose of 1 g cyclophosphamide was given, and glucocorticosteroids were raised for another 4 weeks. After 6 months, the daily prednisolone dose was able to be tapered to 5 mg. Serum creatinine was 124 µmol/L, proteinuria further decreased to 382 mg/g creatinine, and the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score was 0. Maintenance therapy with rituximab 375 mg/m2 every 6 months was started. At the last visit after 8 months, the patient was still in remission, with only minor persistent dysesthesia of the left foot and a persistent serum creatinine of 133 µmol/L.

Keywords: ANCA, GPA, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, MPA, microscopic polyangiitis, management

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