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Long-term Outcomes After Rituximab Treatment for Patients With Systemic Sclerosis

By 29 Aprile 2024Maggio 27th, 2024No Comments

Long-term Outcomes After Rituximab Treatment for Patients With Systemic Sclerosis: Follow-up of the DESIRES Trial With a Focus on Serum Immunoglobulin Levels


Importance: Rituximab is emerging as a promising therapeutic option for systemic sclerosis (SSc), but its long-term outcomes and response markers are unknown.

Objective: To evaluate the long-term outcomes after rituximab treatment for SSc and identify potential response markers.

Design, setting, and participants: In this single-center cohort study, patients with SSc who continued to receive rituximab after the DESIRES trial were analyzed with a median follow-up of 96 weeks. Among the 43 patients who completed the DESIRES trial, 31 continued to receive rituximab, of which 29 with complete data were included in this study.

Exposures: Rituximab treatment.

Main outcomes and measures: A post hoc analysis of the clinical and laboratory data.

Results: In 29 patients with SSc (27 female [93%]; median [IQR] age, 48 [35-45] years), significant improvement in modified Rodnan skin score (MRSS) and percentage of predicted forced vital capacity (FVC%) were observed after 1 (median [IQR] change in MRSS, -7 [-8.5 to -4]; P < .001) and 3 (median [IQR] change in FVC% predicted, 1.85 [0.13-5.68]; P < .001) courses of rituximab, respectively, both of which were sustained during follow-up. High responders (MRSS improvement of ≥9; n = 16) experienced a greater decrease in serum levels of IgG (median [IQR] change in IgG, -125 [-207 to -83] vs 7 [-120 to 43]; P = .008) and IgA (median [IQR] change in IgA, -45 [-96 to -32] vs -11 [-20 to 3]; P < .001) compared with low responders (MRSS improvement of ≤8; n = 13). In particular, decrease in serum IgA levels significantly correlated with the improvement in MRSS (r = 0.64; P < .001). At the last follow-up, low IgM, low IgA, and low IgG was observed in 7, 1, and 1 patient, respectively, of which low IgM was associated with greater improvement in FVC% predicted (median [IQR] change in FVC% predicted, 7.2 [3.8-8.9] vs 3.6 [1.4-6.2]; P = .003).

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study, rituximab treatment was associated with significantly improved skin and lung fibrosis in SSc in a long-term follow-up. Decrease in serum immunoglobulins was associated with greater clinical response.

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