Rituximab for refractory and or relapsing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura related to immune-mediated severe ADAMTS13-deficiency: a report of four cases and a systematic review of the literature

Mischelle A Elliott, John A Heit, Rajiv K Pruthi, Dennis A Gastineau, Jeffrey L Winters, C Christopher Hook
European Journal of Haematology 2009, 83 (4): 365-72
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a potentially life-threatening disorder that in significant proportion of cases is related to the development of autoantibodies to, and resulting severe deficiency of, the ADAMTS13 protease. However, ADAMTS13 deficiency does not account for all cases. Response to plasma exchange (PE) is seen in TTP with and without ADAMTS13 deficiency and is therefore indicated for all with a clinical diagnosis of TTP, although the pathogenesis of the latter group remains to be defined. Although the majority of cases respond to PE, a significant percent are refractory or experience relapse. Rituximab is being increasingly used off-label in this setting, but many reports do not define the pathogenesis of TTP so treated. We here report our experience with, and systematically review the published experience to date, of rituximab in management of refractory and or relapsing TTP specifically related to immune-mediated severe ADAMTS13-deficiency. In total, 73 patients met defined study inclusion criteria. The majority (approximately 95%) achieved complete remission within weeks of the first application of rituximab. The reported relapse rate was low in this patient subgroup, which carry an anticipated relapse rate of up to 60%. However, caution in interpretation of this data is needed given the relatively short median duration of follow-up of approximately 10 months. Rituximab was generally well tolerated, with few serious adverse events reported. However, three severe infectious complications were identified, including viral reactivation in keeping with black box warnings for this agent. Furthermore, reflecting the rarity of this disorder, only a relatively small number of patients have been treated and data with regards to long-term follow-up are largely based on individual case reports. Prospective studies are urgently needed to define the true efficacy and long-term safety of rituximab.

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