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      Rituximab Treatment for Adults with Refractory Nephrotic Syndrome: A Single-Center Experience and Review of the Literature

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          Background/Aims: Minimal change disease (MCD) and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) are common causes of nephrotic syndrome (NS) in adults. However, induction of remission and sustained control of proteinuria is often difficult. Recently, B cell-directed therapy using the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab has been suggested as induction regimen in pediatric FSGS and MCD patients. Data on rituximab use in adults are still limited. Methods: We report on rituximab use in five consecutively treated adult patients (mean age 42.2 ± 9.9 years) with FSGS or relapsing MCD (2 FSGS, 3 MCD) who failed to respond to standard immunosuppressive treatment. Median follow-up was 8 months (3–25). Results: Rituximab induced complete remission in 2 MCD patients and partial remission in 3 patients. Proteinuria was reduced by 86.8% (42.9–95.2) 3 months and by 73.0% (60.1–95.5) 6 months after therapy. In 1 patient with severe FSGS, partial remission was not evident before 6 months after rituximab treatment. Relapses occurred in 2 patients. No severe adverse events related to rituximab were observed. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that B cell-directed therapies are novel treatment options for adults with refractory NS. Response to rituximab varied, with MCD patients exhibiting a faster and more pronounced response compared to FSGS patients.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Adult minimal-change disease: clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcomes.

          Minimal-change disease (MCD) counts for 10 to 15% of cases of primary nephrotic syndrome in adults. Few series have examined this disease in adults. A retrospective review was performed of 95 adults who had MCD and were seen at a single referral center. Examined were presenting features, response to daily versus alternate-day steroids, response to second-line agents, relapse patterns, complications of the disease and therapy, presence of acute renal failure (ARF), and outcome data. Sixty-five patients received daily and 23 received alternate-day steroids initially. There were no differences in remissions, time to remission, relapse rate, or time to relapse between daily- and alternate-day-treated patients. More than one quarter of patients were steroid resistant. At least one relapse occurred in 73% of patients; 28% were frequently relapsing. A significant proportion of frequently relapsing patients became steroid dependent. Second-line agents were used for steroid dependence, steroid resistance, or frequent relapses. No single agent proved superior. There were more remissions with second-line agents in steroid-dependent patients compared with steroid-resistant patients, and remissions were more likely to be complete in steroid-dependent patients. ARF occurred in 24 patients; they tended to be older and hypertensive with lower serum albumin and more proteinuria than those without ARF. At follow up, patients with an episode of ARF had higher serum creatinine than those without ARF. Four patients progressed to ESRD. These patients were less likely to have responded to steroids and more likely to have FSGS on repeat renal biopsy. In this referral MCD population, response to daily and alternate-day steroids is similar. Second-line agents give greater response in patients who are steroid dependent. ARF occurs in a significant number of adult MCD patients and may leave residual renal dysfunction. Few patients progress to ESRD.
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            Rituximab for idiopathic membranous nephropathy.

            Treatments for idiopathic membranous nephropathy, a common cause of nephrotic syndrome, can be very toxic. In view of the pathogenic potential of B cells in this disease, we studied the effects of four weekly infusions of rituximab (375 mg/m(2)-- the monoclonal antibody to B-cell antigen CD20--in eight patients who had idiopathic membranous nephropathy with persistent nephrotic syndrome. At weeks 4 and 20, urinary protein decreased from mean (SE) 8.6 g/24 h (1.4) to 3.8 (0.8) and 3.7 (0.9), respectively (p<0.0001). At week 20, albuminuria and albumin fractional clearance decreased by 70% and 65%, and serum albumin increased by 31%. CD20 B lymphocytes fell below normal ranges up to study end. The short-term risk-benefit profile of rituximab seems more favourable to that of any other immunosuppressive drug used to treat idiopathic membranous nephropathy.
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              Posttransplant recurrence of primary glomerulonephritis.

              All forms of primary GN may recur after kidney transplantation and potentially jeopardize the survival of the graft. IgA nephritis (IgAN) may recur in approximately one third of patients, more frequently in younger patients and in those with a rapid progression of the original disease. However, with the exception of few patients with rapid progression, there is no evidence that recurrence of IgAN has a deleterious effect on graft survival at least up to 10 years. Recurrence of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is often associated with nephrotic proteinuria and is more frequent in children, in patients with rapid progression of the original disease, and in those who lost a previous transplant from recurrence. The natural course of recurrent FSGS is usually unfavorable. Early and intensive plasmapheresis may obtain complete or partial response in several patients. Good results have also been reported with rituximab. Idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) may recur in 30% to 40% of patients. The graft survival in patients with IMN is not different than that of patients with other renal diseases. Good results with rituximab have been reported. Membranoproliferative GN (MPGN) may recur in 27% to 65% of patients. The recurrence is more frequent and the prognosis is more severe in type II MPGN. Although recurrent GN is relatively frequent and may worsen the outcome of renal allografts in some patients, its effect is diluted by several other risk-factors that may have a greater effect than recurrent GN on the long-term graft survival.

                Author and article information

                Nephron Clin Pract
                Nephron Clinical Practice
                S. Karger AG
                May 2012
                26 January 2012
                : 120
                : 2
                : c79-c85
                aRenal Division, Department of Medicine and Center for Molecular Medicine, and bCologne Excellence Cluster on Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
                Author notes
                *Christine E. Kurschat, University Hospital of Cologne, Kerpener Strasse 62, DE–50937 Cologne (Germany), Tel. +49 221 478 89032, E-Mail
                335142 Nephron Clin Pract 2012;120:c79–c85
                © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Pages: 7
                Original Paper


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