The Use of 20% Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy in Patients With B Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma With Humoral Immune Dysfunction After Treatment With Rituximab


Allergy and Immunology

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Clinical lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia


BACKGROUND: Rituximab is an anti-CD20 chimeric antibody used to treat autoimmune conditions and B cell neoplasms. We characterized immunoglobulin (Ig) levels and vaccine responses in rituximab-treated B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients. Patients with impaired vaccine responses were offered therapy with 20% subcutaneous (subq) Ig. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with a biopsy-proven diagnosis of B cell NHL who had received rituximab within the past 24 months were eligible for the study and underwent the following immune evaluation: serum IgG, IgM, IgA, IgE, T/B cell lymphocyte panel, and pre/post vaccine IgG titers to diphtheria, tetanus, and streptococcus pneumoniae. Patients were vaccinated with tetanus, diphtheria and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Patients with abnormal vaccine responses were offered prophylactic subq Ig for 52 weeks. RESULTS: Fifteen patients with NHL were enrolled in the study. The median IgG was 628 mg/dL [interquartile range, 489-718 mg/dL]. Three (20%) of 15 patients responded to diphtheria vaccination, 1 (6.7%) of 15 responded to tetanus vaccination, and 3 (20%) of 15 responded to vaccination to streptococcus pneumoniae. Thirteen (86.7%) of 15 met criteria for humoral immunodeficiency. Ten patients received subq Ig, and experienced a significant increase in serum IgG (P = .008). There were no serious adverse events, and there was a decrease in nonneutropenic infections while on subq Ig therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with NHL treated with rituximab may have significant humoral immunodeficiency as defined by abnormal vaccine responses even in the setting of relatively normal IgG levels. For these patients, subq Ig replacement therapy is well-tolerated and efficacious in improving serum IgG, and may decrease reliance on antibiotics for the treatment of nonneutropenic infections.

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