Treatment of neuromyelitis optica with rituximab: Retrospective analysis of 25 patients

Anu Jacob, Brian G. Weinshenker, Ivo Violich, Nancy McLinskey, Lauren Krupp, Robert J. Fox, Dean M. Wingerchuk, Mike Boggild, Cris S. Constantinescu, Aaron Miller, Tracy De Angelis, Marcelo Matiello, Bruce A.C. Cree

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369 Scopus citations


Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an uncommon, life-threatening inflammatory demyelinating disorder. Recently, much has become known about its immunopathogenesis. However, optimal treatments, with expected outcomes, have not been established. Objective: To evaluate the use and efficacy of rituximab for treating NMO. Design: Retrospective multicenter case series of NMO patients treated with rituximab. Setting: Seven tertiary medical centers in the United States and England. Patients: Twenty-five patients (including 2 children), 23 of whom experienced relapses despite use of other drugs before rituximab. Extended follow-up of 7 previously reported patients is included. Interventions: Infusions of rituximab at median intervals of 8 months. Main Outcome Measures: Annualized relapse rate and disability (expressed as Expanded Disability Status Scale score). Results: At a median follow-up of 19 months, the median annualized posttreatment relapse rate was lower than the pretreatment rate (0 [range 0-3.2] vs 1.7 [range, 0.5-5] relapses, P < .001). Disability improved or stabilized in 20 of 25 patients (80%, P = .02). Two patients died during the follow-up period, 1 owing to a brainstem relapse and 1 owing to suspected septicemia. Infections were reported in 20% of patients. Conclusions: In NMO, treatment with rituximab appears to reduce the frequency of attacks, with subsequent stabilization or improvement in disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1448
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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