, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 1373-1379
Date: 07 Mar 2014

Impact of rituximab on height and weight in children with refractory steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome

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Abstract

Background

Children with steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome (SDNS) often suffer from serious adverse events, including growth retardation and obesity. Rituximab (RTX) is a promising therapeutic option to overcome steroid dependency. We have examined the impact of RTX on growth and obesity in children with SDNS.

Methods

Thirteen pediatric patients with SDNS who were refractory despite treatment with multiple immunosuppressive agents received RTX infusions. Mean follow-up was 2.3 years from the first administration of RTX. Improvement in the height and obesity indexes from prior to the initial RTX infusion through to the last visit was assessed.

Results

After RTX, the number of relapses [2.8 (before RTX) vs. 0.8/year (after RTX); p = 0.0008] and the prednisolone dose (287.9 vs. 70.7 mg/kg/year, respectively; p = 0.0002) were significantly decreased. Marked improvement in the height standard deviation score (SDS) was achieved by ten of the 13 patients (77 %) [n = 13; −1.6 (before RTX) vs. −0.8 SDS (after RTX); p = 0.03]. Notably, the height SDS of seven of the eight patients whose height was less than average at the first RTX improved from −2.6 to −1.4 SDS with RTX therapy. At the same time, the obesity index of 12 of the 13 patients (92 %) significantly improved (n = 13; 16.9 vs. 3.1 %; p = 0.004).

Conclusion

Therapy with RTX may contribute to an improvement in the growth and obesity indexes in some patients suffering from severe side effects of steroids.