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Rituximab is effective in the treatment of nephritis in lupus patients, refractory to conventional immunosuppressive therapy

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Rituximab (RTX) is an alternative for refractory patients with renal SLE, as several open studies support but the only randomized study did not find differences with immunosuppressives. Our objective is to know if RTX is effective for lupus nephritis refractory to immunosuppressive therapy.

Material and methods

We have followed up 46 SLE patients, diagnosed by ACR criteria refractory to immunosuppressive therapy from 3 Spanish hospitals, treated with RTX. The main reason for use of RTX was nephritis in 11 patients (23.9%), arthritis in 13 (28.3%), thrombocytopenia in 5 (10.9%), neurologic involvement in 6 (13%), cutaneous in 6 (13%) and others 5 (10.9%). The dose used in most patients was 2x 1g (86.7%).


46 patients (6.5% men and 93.5% women). 91.3% Caucasians. The most common dose used was 2x1g (86.7%). The median of cycles was 2 (rank 1-3). Table 1.

Table 1 Endpoints.

In 11 renal SLE patients, 8 had complete and 3 partial clinical remission.


RTX have been effective in a group of renal SLE refractory to immunosuppressive therapy (in 8 from 11 refractory renal SLE patients). We are indicating it for SLE patients refractory to conventional therapy, but further studies are necessary to establish its role in the treatment of SLE.

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Correspondence to R Martínez.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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About this article


  • Arthritis
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Nephritis
  • Immunosuppressive Therapy
  • Lupus Nephritis