Platelet-associated antibodies, cellular immunity and FCGR3a genotype influence the response to rituximab in immune thrombocytopenia
Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic
Rituximab is widely used in autoimmune diseases including immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), although the mechanism of effect remains unclear. This study describes the effects of rituximab on platelet-associated antibodies (PA-APAs), B and T cell counts and clonality ( IGHV and TRG@ gene rearrangements), FCGR3A (FcγRIIIa) and FCGR2A (FcγRIIa) polymorphisms and correlation to anti-CD40 ligand (CD40L) response. PA-APA levels fell more frequently in responders (6/8) than in non-responders (2/10: P = 0·08-0·15). Two responders had no PA-APAs. Two non-responders with a fall in PA-APAs had very high CD8 levels. One non-responder had a B cell clone, one responder and one non-responder had a T cell clone. 15/16 patients had the same responses to rituximab and antiCD40L. Patients with FCGR3A V/V polymorphisms were more likely to respond to rituximab (P = 0·03). In summary, the fall in PA-APAs in responders confirms the humoural effect of rituximab. Failure to respond in patients with very high CD8 levels, despite PA-APA fall indicates a role for T cell-mediated platelet/megakaryocyte destruction. Concordance of response to anti-CD40L suggests autoantibody-producing cells are under T cell control. Finally, the effect of FCGR polymorphisms on response confirms the importance of FCGR-mediated depletion of B cells in autoimmunity. This has implications on the pathology of ITP as well as the immunological effect of B cell depletion.