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Rituximab therapy for pure red cell aplasia due to anti-epoetin antibodies in a woman treated with epoetin-alfa: a case report.

  • Author(s): Behler, Caroline M
  • Terrault, Norah A
  • Etzell, Joan E
  • Damon, Lloyd E
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction

Pure red cell aplasia due to anti-epoetin antibodies is a known complication of epoetin therapy for anemia due to chronic kidney disease. This disease has not previously been well described in the setting of therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection. While treatment for pure red cell aplasia due to anti-epoetin antibodies is usually with immunosuppressive therapy such as calcineurin inhibition, the safety of this treatment in chronic hepatitis C virus infection is unknown. To date, little has been published on the efficacy of rituximab on pure red cell aplasia due to anti-epoetin antibodies.

Case presentation

This report describes a 65-year-old Asian-American woman who developed pure red cell aplasia from high titer neutralizing anti-epoetin antibodies after epoetin-alfa therapy during ribavirin and peg-interferon treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus infection. We describe the outcome of her treatment with rituximab. The reticulocyte count increased, and anti-epoetin antibody titer decreased with a loss of neutralizing activity in vitro, leading to a reduction in blood transfusions, and eventual resolution of anemia, without reactivation of hepatitis C virus.

Conclusion

The diagnosis of pure red cell aplasia from anti-epoetin antibodies should be considered in patients undergoing therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection who develop severe anemia after administration of erythropoietin or darbepoetin. Though it is currently an off-label indication, rituximab is a therapeutic option for patients with pure red cell aplasia due to anti-epoetin antibodies.

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