Rituximab: A promising therapy in systemic lupus erythematosus

Akaluck Thatayatikom, Andrew J. White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Several trials of new immunologic agents in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have recently been undertaken. Rituximab, a chimeric antibody directed against CD20 on B lymphocytes, has emerged as a promising therapy. Based upon preliminary data, clinical efficacy of rituximab has been documented in both pediatric and adult-onset SLE patients. The specific manifestations reported to be beneficially affected include lupus nephritis, arthralgia/arthritis, serositis, cutaneous vasculitis, mucositis, rashes, fatigue and neurologic symptoms. Although rituximab's mechanisms of action are incompletely understood, the effects of rituximab are likely mediated by antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and the induction of apoptosis. The resultant repopulation of B cells, alteration of abnormal B cell homeostasis and down-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules on both B and T cells all likely contribute to clinical efficacy. Good tolerability of rituximab is reported with rare serious side effects. The positive response to rituximab verifies a central role for B cells in SLE. This article highlights the clinical experience of rituximab therapy in both pediatric and adult-onset SLE. These data suggest a promising role for rituximab in the treatment of SLE. Further controlled trials and long-term outcome studies are imperative to further define its clinical application and to improve the care of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • B cell depletion
  • CD20
  • Rituximab
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus


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