Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy after rituximab therapy in HIV-negative patients: a report of 57 cases from the Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports project.

Blood. 2009 May 14;113(20):4834-40
Authors: Carson KR, Evens AM, Richey EA, Habermann TM, Focosi D, Seymour JF, Laubach J, Bawn SD, Gordon LI, Winter JN, Furman RR, Vose JM, Zelenetz AD, Mamtani R, Raisch DW, Dorshimer GW, Rosen ST, Muro K, Gottardi-Littell NR, Talley RL, Sartor O, Green D, Major EO, Bennett CL

Rituximab improves outcomes for persons with lymphoproliferative disorders and is increasingly used to treat immune-mediated illnesses. Recent reports describe 2 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and 1 with rheumatoid arthritis who developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) after rituximab treatment. We reviewed PML case descriptions among patients treated with rituximab from the Food and Drug Administration, the manufacturer, physicians, and a literature review from 1997 to 2008. Overall, 52 patients with lymphoproliferative disorders, 2 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, 1 patient with rheumatoid arthritis, 1 patient with an idiopathic autoimmune pancytopenia, and 1 patient with immune thrombocytopenia developed PML after treatment with rituximab and other agents. Other treatments included hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (7 patients), purine analogs (26 patients), or alkylating agents (39 patients). One patient with an autoimmune hemolytic anemia developed PML after treatment with corticosteroids and rituximab, and 1 patient with an autoimmune pancytopenia developed PML after treatment with corticosteroids, azathioprine, and rituximab. Median time from last rituximab dose to PML diagnosis was 5.5 months. Median time to death after PML diagnosis was 2.0 months. The case-fatality rate was 90%. Awareness is needed of the potential for PML among rituximab-treated persons.

PMID: 19264918 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]