Standard treatment for autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) due to warm antibodies includes combinations of glucocorticoids, immunosuppressive drugs (mainly azathioprine) and splenectomy. Patients who are refractory or intolerant to these therapies constitute an important therapeutic challenge. Rituximab, an anti-CD20 chimeric monoclonal antibody, can effectively deplete B-cells and is commonly used in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition, it is being increasingly used in autoimmune disorders, such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, AIHA, systemic lupus erythematosus or vasculitis. We report a case of warm AIHA associated to primary antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). The patient was refractory to high-dose corticosteroids. Splenectomy was discarded in view of the high risk of thrombotic and/or hemorrhagic perioperative complications, due to the presence of APS. After treatment with four weekly doses of rituximab the patients had a rapid and sustained response which allowed progressive tapering of prednisone dose to 5 mg/d. In addition, IgM anticardiolipin titres decreased from > 600 MPL to < 100 MPL. Thirteen further cases of warm AIHA in adults treated with rituximab have been reviewed, showing excellent tolerance and high response rates. Rituximab may be considered prior to splenectomy in patients with refractory AIHA and high risk of complications following splenectomy.
Vol. 89 No. 9 (2004): September, 2004 : Case Reports
Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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