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Targeted therapies in rheumatoid arthritis: Focus on rituximab

Authors YKO Teng, TWJ Huizinga, JM van Laar

Published 15 February 2008 Volume 2007:1(4) Pages 325—333

YKO Teng, TWJ Huizinga, JM van Laar

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands

Abstract: B-cell depletion is a new strategy for treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the past years, several studies have proven the efficacy of anti-CD20 mediated B-cell depletion with rituximab (Mabthera®) in RA patients who failed TNF-blocking therapy. The important role of B-cells in the pathogenesis of RA is deducted from the specific detection of autoantibodies in RA and infiltration of B-cells and plasma cells in inflamed synovium. Pharmacological studies in RA patients treated with rituximab showed that half-life was approximately 3 weeks leading to a 6- to 8-month period of B-cell depletion in peripheral blood. Rituximab treatment led to significant improvements in disease activity of RA patients and the current review summarizes the results from phase III, randomized clinical trials that have been performed. Lastly, data on safety and quality of life are summarized. Although relatively low numbers of RA patients have been treated and long-term data are lacking, current data thus far suggest a relatively good safety profile for rituximab. Future studies will need to focus on predicting responsiveness to rituximab, investigating efficacy of re-treatment with rituximab and extending data on safety and patient-focused outcomes.

Keywords: rheumatoid arthritis, B-cell depletion, rituximab, anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies

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