OBJECTIVES: Rituximab (RTX), used for treatment in paediatric immune-mediated diseases, can lead to hypogammaglobulinaemia and thus to an increased risk of infection, but data on these adverse effects in children are scarce. We aimed to describe the pharmacodynamics of RTX by time to B cell repopulation in paediatric immune-mediated diseases and to assess whether low post-RTX immunoglobulin levels were associated with frequency and severity of infections. METHODS: Data of children with autoimmune diseases (AID), immune dysregulation (ID), haematological diseases (HD) and renal diseases (RD), including immunoglobulin levels pre-/post-RTX and occurrence of infections, who had received RTX at our centre were retrospectively collected. B cell depletion was defined as B cells <10 cells/μl. RESULTS: Post-RTX B cell depletion was achieved in 45/49 patients. In 30/45 patients with B cell repopulation, median time to repopulation was 166 days (IQR 140-224): AID group (n=9) (183 days (IQR 156-239), ID group (n=6) 170 days (IQR 128-184), HD group (n=7) 139 days (IQR 127-294), RD group (n=7) 160 days (IQR 121-367). Severe infections leading to hospitalisation occurred in 7/52 (13.5%) patients: ID (n=3), HD (n=1), RD (n=3). After RTX treatment, 13/52 patients (25%) had low IgG levels for their age at least once, 11/13 had an infection during low IgG but only 2/13 had a severe infection. Low IgG was not associated with severe infection (p=0.459). CONCLUSIONS: Time to B cell repopulation post-RTX ranged individually but did not significantly differ between paediatric patient groups. Severe infections were non-frequent and not associated with low (post-RTX) IgG levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2323-2330
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and experimental rheumatology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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