Diagnostic and therapeutic considerations in patients with hypogammaglobulinemia after rituximab therapy

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Abstract

Purpose of review

There are no established guidelines for evaluating and treating hypogammaglobulinemia in patients with rheumatic disease who receive B-cell depleting agents. The purpose of this article is to review findings in the work-up and treatment of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) that can guide our evaluation of patients with autoimmune disease who develop hypogammaglobulinemia after rituximab/B-cell depleting therapy.

Recent findings

Infection rates are higher in rheumatic disease patients who develop hypogammaglobulinemia than those who do not. However, not all patients who develop hypogammaglobulinemia are at increased risk of developing infection after B-cell depleting therapy. Recent consensus statements have helped refine the diagnosis of impaired immune responses in patients with CVID, and can provide guidance for the diagnostic work-up and therapeutic decision making for patients with secondary drug induced hypogammaglobulinemia.

Summary

Based on findings in studies of CVID, assessment of vaccine response in patients with hypogammglogulinemia after rituximab therapy in the setting of recurrent infections can help predict propensity for infection and thus guide decision making with regards to intravenous immunoglobulin supplementation and retreatment with rituximab.

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