Rituximab, is a chimeric mouse/human monoclonal antibody (Rituxan) specific for the B-cell surface molecule CD20 that has been approved for the treatment of CD20+ low-grade or follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since B lymphocytes play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of LE, anti-CD20 was considered to be valuable for the treatment of SLE. Therefore, a single-center, open-label, dose-escalation phase I/II trial was performed in 18 patients with active, but not organ-threatening, disease(Anolik et al. 2000). The treatment was well tolerated, and symptoms such as rash, arthritis, and fatigue markedly improved. Moreover, even low-dose rituximab therapy resulted in B-lymphocyte depletion. Further studies will reveal whether this promising approach ultimately will be a useful therapy for LE (Anolik et al. 2000).
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