Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that targets CD20, which is a cell marker found on the cell surface of B-cells. This makes rituximab an effective agent in the treatment of B-cell neoplasms such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and CLL. Rituximab is also useful in the treatment of immune thrombocytopenic purpura and rheumatoid arthritis. However, rituximab has an added side effect of increasing the risk of PML in immunocompromised individuals.

Key Points

  • Rituximab
    • Mechanism
      • Monoclonal antibody against CD20
        • CD20 is found on the cell surfaces of most B-cell neoplasms
    • Clinical use
      • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
      • CLL
      • Immune thrombocytopenic purpura
      • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Adverse effects
      • Increased risk of JC Virus / progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
        • PML is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that is caused by JC virus reactivation
          • It almost exclusively in immunocompromised individuals, which is why rituximab may cause it (rituximab takes out B cells since they have the CD20 cell surface marker)