This study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of a single-dose rituximab regimen rituximab treatment in adult patients with steroid-dependent minimal change nephrotic syndrome (MCNS). We conducted a prospective cohort study with historical controls to evaluate the effect of single-dose infusions of rituximab at 375 mg/m2 BSA per dose administered at intervals of 6 months for a period of 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, the patients were divided into the treatment continuation (n = 20) and treatment discontinuation (n = 5) groups according to their intention to continue/discontinue the treatment. A significant reduction in the total number of relapses was observed during the 24-month period after the first rituximab infusion as compared with that during the 24-month period before the first rituximab infusion (108 vs. 8, P < ). Complete remission was induced/maintained in all patients from 12 to 24 months after the first rituximab infusion. In regard to the clinical course after 24 months, 4 of the 20 patients in the treatment continuation group discontinued the rituximab treatment after the fifth infusion and 2 patients discontinued the treatment after the sixth infusion. However, complete remission was maintained in all the 20 patients of this group during the 12-month observation period after the first four single-dose rituximab infusions. On the other hand, 1 of the 5 patients in the treatment discontinuation group developed relapse during the observation period after the first four rituximab infusions, and the rituximab treatment was resumed. In our trial, rituximab therapy was associated with maintenance of complete remission. Complete remission was maintained even in most of the patients who showed B-cell repletion after discontinuation of rituximab therapy. Thus, rituximab may be considered as a radical therapeutic agent for patients with steroid-dependent MCNS.
During conventional pharmacologic dose corticosteroid therapy, ACTH production is inhibited with subsequent suppression of cortisol production by the adrenal cortex. Recovery time for normal HPA activity is variable depending upon the dose and duration of treatment. During this time the patient is vulnerable to any stressful situation. Although it has been shown that there is considerably less adrenal suppression following a single morning dose of prednisolone (10 mg) as opposed to a quarter of that dose administered every six hours, there is evidence that some suppressive effect on adrenal activity may be carried over into the following day when pharmacologic doses are used. Further, it has been shown that a single dose of certain corticosteroids will produce adrenal cortical suppression for two or more days. Other corticoids, including methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, and prednisolone, are considered to be short acting (producing adrenal cortical suppression for 1¼ to 1½ days following a single dose) and thus are recommended for alternate day therapy.
Development of steroid dependency in patients with nephrotic syndrome may require a long-term multi-drug therapy at risk of drug toxicity and renal failure. Rituximab treatment reduces the steroid dosage and the need for immunosuppressive therapy in pediatric patients. Here we retrospectively analyze the efficacy and safety of rituximab in adult patients with steroid-dependent minimal change disease. To do this, we analyzed the outcome of all adult patients treated with rituximab for steroid-dependent minimal change nephrotic syndrome over a mean follow-up of months (range -82 months). Seventeen patients with steroid-dependent or frequently relapsing minimal change nephrotic syndrome, unresponsive to several immunosuppressive medications, were treated with rituximab. Eleven patients had no relapses after rituximab infusion (mean follow-up months, range -82 months) and nine of them were able to come off all other immunosuppressive drugs and steroids during follow-up. Six patients relapsed at least once after a mean time of months (mean follow-up months, range - months), but their immunosuppressive drug treatment could be stopped or markedly reduced during this time. No adverse events were recorded. Thus, rituximab is efficient and safe in adult patients suffering from severe steroid-dependent minimal change disease. Prospective randomized trials are needed to confirm this study.