A systematic review of the use of rituximab as induction therapy in renal transplantation.
Macklin PS., Morris PJ., Knight SR.
Rituximab is a B-lymphocyte depleting agent used to treat lymphoma and autoimmune diseases. There has been recent interest in its use both for management of highly-sensitised and ABO-incompatible recipients but also for induction therapy before transplantation. This systematic review evaluates the evidence for its use as part of induction protocols in ABO-compatible, non-sensitised recipients. 4 databases and 3 trial registries were searched for studies of the use of rituximab as part of induction protocols. The small number of identified studies precluded meta-analysis and thus a narrative review was conducted. 12 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria, relating to 5 individual studies. No significant improvements in patient and graft survival or acute rejection rates were identified with rituximab induction. A single small study reported a trend towards improved graft function with the addition of rituximab induction to a standard immunosuppressive regimen. Rituximab was not found to be associated with increased infectious complications in any study but concerns were raised over possible associations with leukopaenia and cardiovascular mortality. Overall, no convincing benefit of rituximab induction was found and some safety concerns were identified. The results of on-going trials are awaited but further studies may be required before we can draw firm conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of rituximab in this setting.