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Rituximab for minimal-change nephrotic syndrome in adulthood: predictive factors for response, long-term outcomes and tolerance.

BACKGROUND: Minimal-change nephrotic syndrome (MCNS) is a common cause of steroid sensitive nephrotic syndrome (NS) with frequent relapse. Although steroids and calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) are the cornerstone treatments, the use of rituximab (RTX), a monoclonal antibody targeting B cells, is an efficient and safe alternative in childhood.

METHODS: Because data from adults remain sparse, we conducted a large retrospective and multicentric study that included 41 adults with MCNS and receiving RTX.

RESULTS: Complete (NS remission and withdrawal of all immunosuppressants) and partial (NS remission and withdrawal of at least one immunosuppressants) clinical responses were obtained for 25 and 7 patients, respectively (overall response 78%), including 3 patients that only received RTX and had a complete clinical response. After a follow-up time of 39 months (6-71), relapses occurred in 18 responder patients [56%, median time 18 months (3-36)]. Seventeen of these received a second course of RTX and then had a complete (n = 13) or partial (n = 4) clinical response. From multivariate analysis, on-going mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) therapy at the time of RTX was the only predictive factor for RTX failure [HR = 0.07 95% CI (0.01-0.04), P = 0.003]. Interestingly, nine patients were still in remission at 14 months (3-36) after B-cell recovery. No significant early or late adverse event occurred after RTX therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: RTX is safe and effective in adult patients with MCNS and could be an alternative to steroids or CNIs in patients with a long history of relapsing MCNS.

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