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Bendamustine plus rituximab for chronic cold agglutinin disease: results of a Nordic prospective multicenter trial

Sigbjørn Berentsen, Ulla Randen, Markku Oksman, Henrik Birgens, Tor Henrik Anderson Tvedt, Jakob Dalgaard, Eivind Galteland, Einar Haukås, Robert Brudevold, Jon Hjalmar Sørbø, Inger Anne Næss, Agnieszka Malecka, Geir E Tjønnfjord
Blood 2017 July 27, 130 (4): 537-541
Primary chronic cold agglutinin disease (CAD) is a well-defined clinicopathologic entity in which a bone marrow clonal B-cell lymphoproliferation results in autoimmune hemolytic anemia and cold-induced circulatory symptoms. Rituximab monotherapy and fludarabine-rituximab in combination are documented treatment options. In a prospective, nonrandomized multicenter trial, 45 eligible patients received rituximab 375 mg/m2 day 1 and bendamustine 90 mg/m2 days 1 and 2 for 4 cycles at a 28-day interval. Thirty-two patients (71%) responded; 18 (40%) achieved complete response (CR) and 14 (31%) partial response (PR). Among 14 patients previously treated with rituximab or fludarabine-rituximab, 7 (50%) responded to bendamustine-rituximab (3 CR and 4 PR). Hemoglobin levels increased by a median of 4.4 g/dL in the complete responders, 3.9 g/dL in those achieving PR, and 3.7 g/dL in the whole cohort. The 10th percentile of response duration was not reached after 32 months. Grade 3-4 neutropenia occurred in 15 patients (33%), but only 5 (11%) experienced infection with or without neutropenia. Thirteen patients (29%) had their dose of bendamustine reduced. In conclusion, bendamustine-rituximab combination therapy is highly efficient, sufficiently safe, and may be considered in first line for patients with CAD requiring therapy. The trial was registered at as #NCT02689986.

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