Rituximab therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia-associated autoimmune hemolytic anemia

Sacred Heart University, Феърфилд, Connecticut, United States
American Journal of Hematology (Impact Factor: 3.8). 08/2006; 81(8):598-602. DOI: 10.1002/ajh.20665
Source: PubMed


Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is a well-known complication of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In recent years the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab has been used for the therapy of steroid-refractory AIHA and autoimmune thrombocytopenia, either idiopathic or in association with CLL. We report the results of rituximab treatment for 14 patients suffering from CLL-associated AIHA. They developed a direct antiglobulin test positive AIHA at a mean time of 47 months (range 0-135 months) from the diagnosis of CLL. In 3 cases AIHA was diagnosed at the same time as CLL. Only 1 patient had fludarabine-related AIHA. All patients received steroids as first-line treatment. At a mean time of 46 days (range 1-210 days) from the diagnosis of AIHA all patients received rituximab at a dosage of 375 mg/m(2)/weekly for 4 weeks. All patients except 3 (2 died of cardiac failure or sepsis soon after the third cycle and 1 HCV-positive patient experienced a rise in serum amino transferases) completed the scheduled four programmed cycles. First injection side effects of rituximab were minimal. All but 2 patients showed an increase in hemoglobin levels in response to rituximab (mean value 3.6 g/dl; range 0.7-10 g/dl) and a reduction in the absolute lymphocyte count and lymph nodes and spleen volume. Nine patients required packed red cell transfusions before starting rituximab; 5 no longer needed transfusions just after the second cycle and another patient after the fourth cycle. Three patients (22%) were considered to fully respond and 7 (50%) only responded partially. At a mean follow-up of 17 months, 8 patients were still alive, 6 of them transfusion-free. Our results prove that the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody is an effective and well-tolerated alternative treatment for CLL-associated AIHA.

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Available from: Sergio Storti, Dec 01, 2015
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    • "D’Arena et al investigated single agent rituximab in 14 patients with CLL-associated AIHA that failed first-line corticosteroid treatment.55 Rituximab was given at a dose of 375 mg/m2/weekly for 4 weeks. "
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    ABSTRACT: Autoimmune cytopenias are a frequent complication in CLL, occurring in approximately 5–10% of the patients. The most common manifestation is autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, followed by immune thrombocytopenia and only rarely pure red blood cell aplasia or autoimmune granulocytopenia. Initial treatment is as for the idiopathic autoimmune cytopenias, with most patients responding to conventional corticosteroid therapy. Patients, who do not respond to conventional therapy after 4–6 weeks, should be considered for alternative immunosuppression, monoclonal antibody therapy or splenectomy. While randomized trials demonstrating the benefit of rituximab in CLL-related autoimmune diseases are still lacking, there are considerable data in the literature that provide evidence for its effectiveness. The monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab also displays considerable activity against both the malignant disease and the autoimmune complication in patients with CLL, although at the expense of greater toxicity. A number of new monoclonal antibodies, such as ofatumumab, GA-101, lumiliximab, TRU-016, epratuzumab, and galiximab, are currently investigated in CLL and their activity in CLL-related autoimmune cytopenias should be evaluated in future studies.
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    • "Use of rituximab in FCR may be the factor that contributes to the masking of DAT positivity. In a recent report of 14 patients with CLL and AIHA who received rituximab as treatment for AIHA(D'Arena et al, 2006), four patients converted from DAT positive to DAT negative after four doses of rituximab even though only two out of these four patients were considered complete responders to rituximab therapy, raising the possibility that use of rituximab can result in DAT negativity in the presence of ongoing haemolysis. Our analysis of pretreatment parameters indicates that high serum b 2 M predicts for development of IA in patients with CLL treated with FCR. "
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    ABSTRACT: Immune anaemias (IA) [auto-immune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA) and pure red cell aplasia (PRCA)] are complications of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Fludarabine has been associated with AIHA, whereas both rituximab and cyclophosphamide have been used to treat this condition. Combining these agents with fludarabine may reduce the likelihood of AIHA. We report on the incidence, outcome and pretreatment predictors of IA in 300 patients treated with fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR). Nineteen patients (6.5%) developed IA [AIHA (5.8%), PRCA (0.7%)] on or after treatment with FCR. Most patients (82.4%) with AIHA had a negative direct antiglobulin test (DAT). Additional markers of haemolysis (indirect hyperbilirubinaemia, reticulocytosis, low haptoglobin and elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels) confirmed the presence of AIHA in these patients. The majority of patients responded to therapies including steroids, ciclosporin, i.v. immunoglobulin, etc. High pretreatment levels of beta-2 microglobulin predicted for development of IA. No haemolytic crisis was observed during FCR therapy in eight patients with AIHA prior to FCR. Thus, the incidence of IA among CLL patients treated with FCR was comparable with historical rates. The diagnosis of AIHA can be considered even if the DAT is negative. Pre-existing AIHA need not preclude front-line FCR therapy.
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