Medline: 11304767

The abstract Journal of Clinical Oncology 19(8): 2153-2164, 2001. is available online.

The fulltext Journal of Clinical Oncology 19(8): 2153-2164, 2001. may be available online for subscribers.

Rituximab using a thrice weekly dosing schedule in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma demonstrates clinical activity and acceptable toxicity.

Byrd JC, Murphy T, Howard RS, et al.


Rituximab has been reported to have little activity in small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)/chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and to be associated with significant infusion-related toxicity. This study sought to decrease the initial toxicity and optimize the pharmacokinetics with an alternative treatment schedule.

Patients and Methods:
Thirty three patients with SLL/CLL received dose 1 of rituximab (100 mg) over 4 hours. In cohort I (n = 3; 250 mg/m(2)) and cohort II (n = 7; 375 mg/m(2)) rituximab was administered on day 3 and thereafter three times weekly for 4 weeks using a standard administration schedule. Cohort III (n = 23; 375 mg/m(2)) administered rituximab similar to cohort II for the first two treatments and then over 1 hour thereafter.

A total of 33 CLL/SLL patients were enrolled; only one patient discontinued therapy because of infusion-related toxicity. Thirteen patients developed transient hypoxemia, hypotension, or dyspnea that were associated with significant changes in baseline interleukin-6, interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon gamma compared with those not experiencing such reactions. Infusion-related toxicity occurred more commonly in older (median age 73 v 62 years; P =.02) patients with no other pretreatment clinical or laboratory features predicting occurrence of these events. The overall response rate was 45% (3% CR, 42% PR; 95% CI 28% to 64%). Median response duration for these 15 patients was 10 months (95% CI, 6.8-13.2; range, 3 to 17+).

Rituximab administered thrice weekly for 4 weeks demonstrates clinical efficacy and acceptable toxicity. Initial infusion-related events seem to be cytokine mediated and resolve by the third infusion making rapid administration possible. Future combination studies of rituximab with other therapies in CLL seem warranted.

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Dr. G. Quade