What is known and objective: Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) viraemia and autoimmune cytopenias (AICs) are significant complications that occur following paediatric solid organ transplantation. A variety of treatment methods have been investigated but limited research has focused on the utilization of rituximab in paediatric cardiac transplant recipients for these indications. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that binds the CD20 antigen on the surface of B-type lymphocytes resulting in B-cell cytotoxicity. It is considered a second-line therapy for treatment of autoimmune cytopenias and EBV viraemia following adult solid organ transplant (SOT) and haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). However, data for its use in the paediatric population for treatment of autoimmune cytopenias are lacking. Dosing is based on adult studies, and the frequency and length of therapy associated with resolution of EVB viraemia and AICs in paediatric cardiac transplant recipients is unknown. The objective of this retrospective study was to describe the dosing and length of therapy of expanded off-label use of rituximab for the management of refractory EBV viraemia and AICs, specifically in paediatric cardiac transplant patients. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted evaluating children <18 years of age who underwent cardiac transplantation, were diagnosed with EBV viraemia or autoimmune cytopenia, and subsequently received treatment with rituximab between June 1995 and October 2018. Data were analysed descriptively. Results and discussion: Of all (n = 188) paediatric cardiac transplant recipients since 1995, 10 patients met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Primary diagnoses were EBV viraemia (n = 6), immune haemolytic anaemia (n = 3) and immune thrombocytopenic purpura (n = 1). Complete responses were observed in 83.3% and 100% of patients with EVB viraemia and AICs treated with rituximab, respectively. All patients (n = 10) received rituximab 325 mg/m2 at weekly intervals. The number of total doses associated with complete resolution was 4–6 doses for EBV viraemia and 2–4 doses for AICs. The most common adverse events reported were neutropenia (n = 3), thrombocytopenia (n = 4), infusion reactions (n = 1) and significant anaemia (n = 2). What is new and conclusion: Although the efficacy of rituximab for treatment of EBV viraemia and autoimmune cytopenia in the paediatric cardiac transplant population remains unclear, our study supported the benefit of rituximab when added to therapy for treatment of EBV viraemia and ACIs.
- paediatric cardiac transplant
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)