Rituximab and Intravenous Immunoglobulin Treatment of Chronic Antibody-Mediated Kidney Allograft Rejection

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Kidney transplant rejections are classified into T-cell-mediated and antibody-mediated rejections (AMR). C4d staining on allograft biopsies and solid-phase assays to measure donor-specific alloantibodies have helped to precisely define the latter. Although for acute AMRs, therapy mainly relies on plasmapheresis or immunoadsorption, no studies for treatment of chronic AMR are available. Here, we report on four kidney allograft recipients suffering from chronic AMR 1 to 27 years posttransplant, who were treated with a combination of rituximab and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). Rituximab/IVIG improved kidney allograft function in all four patients, whereas donor-specific antibodies were reduced in 2 of 4 patients. However, in one patient an acute rejection episode occurred 12 months after this treatment, and another patient had severe, possibly rituximab-associated lung toxicity. Thus, rituximab/IVIG may be a useful strategy for the treatment of chronic AMR, but further randomized multicenter studies are necessary to establish its efficacy and safety profile.

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