A systematic review of the use of rituximab for the treatment of antibody-mediated renal transplant rejection.
Macklin PS., Morris PJ., Knight SR.
Rituximab is a B-lymphocyte depleting agent that is used to treat hematological malignancies and autoimmune diseases. Recently, it has gained interest as an immunomodulatory agent in renal transplantation. This systematic review evaluates the evidence for its use in the treatment of acute and chronic antibody-mediated renal transplant rejection (AAMR; CAMR). A systematic search of four databases and three trial registries was conducted. The small number and heterogeneous nature of included studies precluded meta-analysis and thus a narrative review was conducted. A total of 28 records met the inclusion criteria (AAMR, 18 records relating to 9 studies; CAMR, 10 records relating to 7 studies). Two systematic reviews were identified that had differing inclusion criteria to this current review. Of seven primary studies in the setting of AAMR, four reported increased graft survival and one reported improved graft function with rituximab. This contrasts with CAMR in which only one of seven studies reported improved graft outcomes with a rituximab-based regimen; three studies reported inferior outcomes and three reported no difference. Only one study reported that rituximab was associated with an increase in adverse effects. The included studies suggest that rituximab may be of some benefit in the setting of AAMR but a lack of high quality evidence precludes firm conclusions from being drawn. Rituximab does not appear to reliably improve outcomes in CAMR. Further well-conducted studies are required to better define the effects and long-term safety profile of rituximab in the treatment of antibody-mediated renal transplant rejection.