B cells are involved in the pathogenesis of chronic GVHD (cGVHD). We hypothesized that prophylactic anti-B-cell therapy delivered 2 months after transplantation would decrease allogeneic donor B-cell immunity and possibly the incidence of cGVHD. Therefore, in the present study, patients with high-risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia (n = 22) and mantle-cell lymphoma (n = 13) received a total lymphoid irradiation of 80 cGy for 10 days and antithymocyte globulin 1.5 mg/kg/d for 5 days. Rituximab (375 mg/m(2)) was infused weekly on days 56, 63, 70, and 77 after transplantation. The incidence of acute GVHD was 6%. The cumulative incidence of cGVHD was 20%. Nonrelapse mortality was 3%. Rituximab treatment after allogeneic transplantation significantly reduced B-cell allogeneic immunity, with complete prevention of alloreactive H-Y Ab development in male patients with female donors (P = .01). Overall survival and freedom from progression at 4 years for chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients were 73% and 47%, respectively; for mantle-cell lymphoma patients, they were 69% and 53%, respectively.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2011-12-395970
View details for PubMedID 22563089