Autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation and anti-B-cell directed immunotherapy for refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia

Department of Paediatrics, University of Münster, Germany.
European Journal of Pediatrics (Impact Factor: 1.89). 09/2001; 160(8):492-6. DOI: 10.1007/s004310100778
Source: PubMed


We report the clinical course of a 6.5-year-old boy with refractory auto-immune haemolytic anaemia. Due to failure of conventional immunosuppressive therapy, an autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation was performed. The conditioning regimen consisted of cyclophosphamide and anti-thymocyte globulin. The patient was reinfused with 2.6 × 106 CD34 positive selected, B- and T-cell-depleted peripheral blood stem cells per kg body weight. He showed a partial response with a reduced demand for red blood cell transfusions. However, due to persistence of the haemolytic process he was started on rituximab therapy on day +40 post-transplant. Following two doses of rituximab, the patient improved rapidly and developed a sustained complete response. After 10 months, haemolysis recurred and responded again to rituximab therapy without the necessity for red blood cell transfusions. 15 months after initial antibody treatment, however, the patient developed a second relapse which was now refractory to rituximab therapy although CD20+ B-lymphocytes were cleared from the peripheral blood.
Conclusion Our case report suggests that rituximab and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation are important though not curative elements in the treatment of patients with severe auto-immune haemolytic anaemia who are refractory to conventional immunosuppressive therapy.

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