Rituximab therapy for membranous nephropathy: A systematic review

Andrew S. Bomback, Vimal K. Derebail, Julie G. McGregor, Abhijit V. Kshirsagar, Ronald J. Falk, Patrick H. Nachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: The treatment of membranous nephropathy (MN) remains controversial. Rituximab, which selectively targets B cells, has emerged as a possible alternative treatment option with limited toxicity. Design, setting, participants, & measurements: The available data on rituximab therapy for MN were reviewed using the MEDLINE database (inception to August 1, 2008), Google Scholar, and selected reference lists. English-language studies investigating the use of rituximab in idiopathic and secondary MN, in native and transplanted kidneys, were included. Study design, subject number, clinical characteristics (diagnosis, previous and concomitant treatment courses, baseline proteinuria, baseline renal function), rituximab protocol, follow-up period, achievement of complete or partial remission, changes in proteinuria and renal function, and adverse effects of therapy were extracted. Results: Twenty-one articles were included for review; all were either case reports or case series without controls. More than half of the published cases (50 of 85) came from one center where rituximab was used as primary immunosuppression for idiopathic MN. The available data suggest that rituximab, dosed either as 375 mg/m2 once weekly for 4 wk or as 1 g on days 1 and 15, achieves a 15 to 20% rate of complete remission and a 35 to 40% rate of partial remission. The drug was well tolerated with minimal adverse events. Conclusions: Although rituximab may prove to be a better treatment option for MN than alkylating agents or calcineurin inhibitors, the current literature only supports using the drug in research protocols. Whether, when, how, and why to use rituximab in MN remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-744
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


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