Resistance to the action of rituximab (RTX) has been documented in several diseases. More recently, obinutuzumab (OBZ) has shown promise where RTX has failed in oncology and lupus nephritis. Unlike RTX, OBZ is a weak activator of complement, which may avoid the false-positive complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) crossmatch tests after RTX infusions.
The aim of this study was to explore the effect of OBZ on B-cell depletion in kidney-transplant candidates and its impact on crossmatch test results. We included 12 patients: who were either highly sensitized kidney-transplant candidates or kidney-transplant recipients presenting with antibody-mediated rejection. Six received OBZ and 6 received RTX. CD-19 counts, flow cytometry and CDC crossmatch tests were run immediately before and at 2 weeks after drug infusion.
OBZ reduced CD-19 counts: median reduction was 98%. B-cell CDC crossmatch test results became positive following RTX infusion but were not affected by OBZ infusion.
OBZ effectively depleted B-cell counts in sensitized kidney-transplant candidates and, unlike RTX, had no effect on CDC crossmatch results.