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B cell depletion therapy for new-onset opsoclonus-myoclonus


  • Potential conflict of interest: Dr. Pranzatelli has clinical trial contracts and/or research grants from Genentech/IDEC and Questcor. He was a paid ad hoc consultant for two Genentech B cell conferences.


Twelve immunotherapy-naïve children with opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome and CSF B cell expansion received rituximab, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and IVIg. Motor severity lessened 73% by 6 mo and 81% at 1 yr (P < 0.0001). Opsoclonus and action myoclonus disappeared rapidly, whereas gait ataxia and some other motor components improved more slowly. ACTH dose was tapered by 87%. Reduction in total CSF B cells was profound at 6 mo (-93%). By study end, peripheral B cells returned to 53% of baseline and serum IgM levels to 63%. Overall clinical response trailed peripheral B cell and IgM depletion, but improvement continued after their levels recovered. All but one non-ambulatory subject became ambulatory without additional chemotherapy; two relapsed and remitted; four had rituximab-related or possibly related adverse events; and two had low-titer human anti-chimeric antibody. Combination of rituximab with conventional agents as initial therapy was effective and safe. A controlled trial with long-term safety monitoring is indicated. © 2009 Movement Disorder Society