Safety and efficacy of rituximab in nonviral cryoglobulinemia vasculitis: Data from the French Autoimmunity and Rituximab registry


  • The French AutoImmunity and Rituximab registry was set up by the French Society of Rheumatology and its section, the Club Rhumatismes et Inflammation, and has received financial support (unrestricted educational grant) from Roche.



Management of nonviral cryoglobulinemia vasculitis has yet to be defined. Rituximab has emerged as a novel and promising therapeutic alternative, but data are scarce. Our objective was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab in nonviral cryoglobulinemia vasculitis in off-trial real-life patients.


Prospective data from the French AutoImmunity and Rituximab (AIR) registry, which includes data on patients with autoimmune disorders treated with rituximab in off-label conditions, were analyzed.


Twenty-three patients received treatment with rituximab for cryoglobulinemia vasculitis. Tolerance was marked by the occurrence of side effects in almost half of the patients, including severe infections in 6 (26%) of 23, with a rate of 14.1 per 100 patient-years. These infections occurred in a particular subset of patients ages >70 years, with essential type II mixed cryoglobulinemia and renal failure with a glomerular filtration rate of <60 ml/minute, and receiving high-dose corticosteroids. Three of these patients died. In contrast, clinical and immunologic efficacy was noted in all evaluable patients. Clinical relapses occurred in half of the patients after a median time of 13.5 months following rituximab administration, and were more frequent in patients refractory to previous immunosuppressive therapy than in previously untreated patients.


Data from the AIR registry show a dramatic efficacy and a steroid-sparing effect of rituximab, but also show the occurrence of severe infections in elderly patients with renal failure and high-dose steroids. The role of rituximab in nonviral cryoglobulinemia vasculitis remains to be defined in well-designed randomized controlled trials.