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Abstract

Objective

To perform a randomized controlled trial of rituximab in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)–associated mixed cryoglobulinemic vasculitis.

Methods

We conducted a single-center, open-label, randomized controlled trial of rituximab (375 mg/ m2/week for 4 weeks) compared to the best available therapy (maintenance or increase in immunosuppressive therapy) for HCV-associated cryoglobulinemic vasculitis in patients in whom antiviral therapy had failed to induce remission. The primary end point was disease remission at 6 months from study entry.

Results

A total of 24 patients were enrolled (12 in each treatment group). Baseline disease activity and organ involvement were similar in the two groups. Ten patients in the rituximab group (83%) were in remission at study month 6, as compared with 1 patient in the control group (8%), a result that met the criterion for stopping the study (P < 0.001). The median duration of remission for rituximab-treated patients who reached the primary end point was 7 months. No adverse effects of rituximab on HCV plasma viremia or on hepatic transaminase levels were observed.

Conclusion

Rituximab was a well-tolerated and effective treatment in patients with HCV-associated cryoglobulinemic vasculitis in whom antiviral therapy failed to induce remission.