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Does Rituximab Have Lasting Benefit in Patients With Systemic Sclerosis?

Sustained improvements seen in modified Rodnan skin score, percentage of predicted forced vital capacity after one and three courses of rituximab

By Dermsquared Editorial Team | February 15, 2023

For patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc), rituximab is associated with significantly improved skin and lung fibrosis in long-term follow-up, according to a study published online Feb. 15 in JAMA Dermatology.

Ai Kuzumi, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the long-term outcomes after rituximab treatment for SSc in a single-center cohort study involving 43 patients who completed the DESIRES trial, 31 of whom continued to receive rituximab. Complete data were available for 29 patients, with a median follow-up of 96 weeks.

The researchers found that after one and three courses of rituximab, the 29 patients with SSc had significant improvement in the modified Rodnan skin score (MRSS) and percentage of predicted forced vital capacity (FVC%), both of which were sustained during follow-up. Compared with low responders (MRSS improvement ≤8), high responders (MRSS improvement ≥9) experienced a greater decrease in the serum level of immunoglobulin (Ig)G and IgA. There was a significant correlation seen for a decrease in serum IgA levels with improvement in MRSS. Low IgM, IgA, and IgG were observed in seven, one, and one patients, respectively, at the last follow-up, with low IgM associated with greater improvement in FVC% predicted.

"Rituximab was associated with significantly improved MRSS and FVC% predicted in patients with SSc at a median follow-up of 96 weeks, supporting its role as a disease-modifying therapy for SSc," the authors write.

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