Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common autoimmune disease in Chinese, and there is high morbidity and mortality in patients with initial renal involvement or severe nephritis. We investigated the efficacy of B cell depletion therapy with rituximab as treatment of Chinese patients with lupus nephritis (LN).Methods: We enrolled 14 patients with lupus nephritis (LN) from Taipei Veterans General Hospital beginning in 2009. LN was confirmed by clinical and laboratory evaluation. Rituximab was indicated when a patient had proteinuria ( ＞1 g/day urinary protein) that was poorly responsive to treatment with corticosteroids or immunosuppressants. Laboratory examination, including measurements of CBC, creatinine, albumin, C3, C4, anti-dsDNA antibodies, and urinary protein, were performed before rituximab infusion and at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups. Intravenous rituximab was given twice over 2 weeks at a total dosage of 1 or 2 g. The primary endpoint was renal response status at week 24.Results: A total of 14 patients were enrolled from 2009 to 2011. There were 11 females and 3 males and the age range was 18 to 41 years (median: 31 years, IQR 10.5 years). The median urinary protein was 3.38 g/day (IQR: 1.76 to 6.47) before rituximab infusion, and was 1.25 g/day (IQR: 0.49-3.13) at the 6 month follow-up. At week 24, the overall renal response rate (complete + partial response) was 57% (8 of 14 patients). There were improvements in C3 levels (＞20 mg/dL) in 6 patients (43%), improvements in C4 levels (＞10 mg/dL) in 3 patients (21%), and reductions in anti-dsDNA antibody levels (＞50%) in 8 patients (57%).Conclusion: Rituximab appeared to have acceptable efficacy in our group of 14 LN patients. Future controlled studies should examine the long-term safety and efficacy of rituximab and determine the optimal rituximab regimen for Chinese patients with LN.
- lupus nephritis