Rituximab for treatment-resistant extensive Wegener's granulomatosis- additive effects of a maintenance treatment with leflunomide

J. C. Henes, J. Fritz, S. Koch, R. Klein, M. Horger, T. Risler, L. Kanz, I. Koetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Extensive Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) is treated by glucocorticosteroids (GC) and cyclophosphamide (CYC). In some cases, the disease is refractory to CYC. For those patients the depletion of B-lymphocytes with rituximab is a promising new treatment modality. This is a retrospective study of six patients receiving rituximab (RTX) with 4 × 375 mg/m2 body surface weekly because of inefficacy of CYC. Proteinase-3-antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (PR3-ANCA) and c-ANCAs were assessed. For clinical follow-up the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score for WG (BVAS/WG) was used. In five of the six cases, leflunomide (LEF) was given as maintenance treatment. Mean follow up was 16 months (12-21 months). The median PR3-ANCA titer fell from 36.8 U/ml at baseline to 21.4 U/ml after 3 months, 8.3 after 6 months, and 4.3 at month 12. The median BVAS/WG at baseline was 5 and 0 after 1 month. Two minor relapses could be noticed at month 3. After 6 months, one patient still had a BVAS of 1, all the others had a BVAS of 0. At month 18, a major relapse occurred in one patient, which was successfully retreated with RTX. The RTX infusions were well tolerated. Rituximab is a well-tolerated, very effective medication for patients with Wegener's granulomatosis. Leflunomide maintenance may increase the efficacy of rituximab and prolong the disease-free period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1711-1715
Number of pages5
JournalClinical rheumatology
Volume26
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Leflunomide
  • Maintenance therapy
  • Rituximab
  • Wegener's granulomatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology

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