Introduction: Biologic treatments are newly used in rheumatoid arthritis. Three tumornecrosis factor alfa (TNF-α) inhibitors - adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab - have been licensed for rheumatoid arthritis in Hungary. B-cell targeted treatment with rituximab is the next biologic treatment. Rituximab was used earlier for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Rituximab was registered to be used in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response or an intolerance to one or more TNF-α blocking agents. Aim: Systematic review in the literature of efficacy of rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis. To assess the efficacy and safety of rituximab treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Methods: MEDLINE and Cochrane database were searched for randomized controlled trials with rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis. A meta-analysis of trial data was conducted. Results: Three randomized controlled trials were identified including 1145 patients. 54% of patients with inadequate response to TNF-alfa inhibitors and severe disease-activity have reached American College of Rheumatology 20 criteria. This ratio is larger with 33% (95% CI, 25-41%) than without treatment, and patients have almost five times (relative risk = 4.77 95% CI, 3.12-7.31) chance to improve. Functional status represented by Health Assessment Questionnaire score improves significantly (p < 0.001) in rituximab arms (-0.4 scores) compared with placebo arms (-0.1 scores). EULAR moderate and good responses in the rituximab group were significant (p < 0.00001) compared with the placebo group, rate difference is 38% (95% CI, 32-44%). Rituximab improves also radiological symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Conclusions: New therapeutic options, rituximab is efficacious in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rituximab can improve symptoms of patients with inadequate response to or intolerance of TNF-α inhibitors.
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