MULTICENTER STUDY
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Rituximab for induction and maintenance treatment of ANCA-associated vasculitides: a multicentre retrospective study on 80 patients.

Rheumatology 2014 March
OBJECTIVES: Rituximab has been shown to induce remission of ANCA-associated vasculitides (AAVs). Our study was undertaken to describe AAV clinical responses to rituximab used for remission-induction and/or maintenance therapy, assess rituximab's safety profile and evaluate French clinical practices.

METHODS: This retrospective study concerned AAV patients who had received one or more rituximab infusion between 2002 and January 2011 and had follow-up lasting ≥12 months.

RESULTS: Eighty patients were included, most with refractory or relapsing AAV: 70 (88%) with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), 9 (11%) with microscopic polyangiitis and 1 (1%) with eosinophilic GPA. Rituximab was the first agent used to induce remission in 73 patients. The two most commonly administered regimens were an infusion of 375 mg/m(2)/week for 4 weeks (54 patients) and an infusion of 1 g every 2 weeks for a month (16 patients). Rituximab was first prescribed to maintain remission in seven patients. Respective 1-, 2-, and 3-year relapse-free survival rates after the first infusion were 80% (95% CI 72, 89), 63% (51, 77) and 52% (39, 70). Relapse-free survival was longer for patients receiving rituximab maintenance therapy (P = 0.002). Among 22 (28%) rituximab-treated patients experiencing severe adverse events, 12 (15%) had infectious complications leading to 4 (5%) deaths. Only 15 (19%) patients had received anti-pneumococcal vaccine before rituximab.

CONCLUSION: Rituximab was able to induce AAV remission and seemed to maintain remission better than other agents, but caution is needed concerning its safety, especially regarding bacterial infections, in this population.

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