Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 229-232

Rituximab in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders: Our experience

Department of Neurology, Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Bhim Singhal
Room No. 131, MRC Building, Bombay Hospital, 12 New Marine Lines, Mumbai - 400 020, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_499_16

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Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an inflammatory demyelinating central nervous system disease, with recurrent attacks of severe bilateral optic neuritis and longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis. Aggressive immunosuppression is essential to prevent clinical relapses and permanent disability. Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody to CD20, has been found effective in several reports and small uncontrolled studies. There is a paucity of data regarding its use in Indian patients. Objectives: The aim of this study was to report the results of rituximab treatment in NMO spectrum disorders (NMOSDs) in the Indian scenario. Methods: This study is a retrospective, observational study including 13 NMOSD patients treated with rituximab. After initial therapy in the acute episode with IV methylprednisolone and if needed plasma exchange, therapy was initiated as a cycle of intravenous rituximab, two doses 2 weeks apart of 1 g each. Subsequent cycles were advised at intervals of every 6 months. The primary outcome measure was annualized relapse rate (ARR), defined as a number of clinical attacks per year. Clinical adverse events were recorded throughout the study. Results: In the study, mean ARR reduced from 2.61 to 0.09 after therapy (P = 0.000685). Of 13 patients, 8 (61.54%) were completely relapse free after starting treatment with rituximab. Treatment was well tolerated and no serious adverse events were noted. Conclusions: The treatment of NMOSDs with rituximab in Indian patients reduces the frequency of relapses and is well tolerated.

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