Studies investigating rates and risk factors for serious safety events (SSEs) during rituximab treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD), and related disorders are limited.
Rituximab-treated patients with MS, NMOSD, or related disorders at the Rocky Mountain and New York University MS Care Centers were included. The follow-up period was defined as the time from the initial dose of rituximab up to 12 months of last dose of rituximab or ocrelizumab (in patients who switched). Clinician-reported and laboratory data were retrospectively collected from electronic medical records.
One-thousand patients were included comprising 907 MS, 77 NMOSD, and 16 related disorders. Patients had a mean follow-up of 31.1 months and a mean cumulative rituximab dose of 4012 mg. Of the 169 patients who switched to ocrelizumab, the mean ocrelizumab dose was 1141 mg. Crude incidence rate per 1000 person-years (PY) for lymphopenia was 19.2, neutropenia 5.6, and hypogammaglobulinemia 17.8. Infections resulting in either hospitalization, IV antibiotics, or using antibiotics ≥14 days occurred at a rate of 38.6/1000 PY. Risk factors for infection were duration of therapy, male gender, increased disability, prior exposure to immunosuppression/chemotherapy, lymphopenia, and hypogammaglobulinemia. Particularly, wheelchair-bound patients had 8.56-fold increased odds of infections. Crude incidence rates of malignant cancer were 3.5, new autoimmune disease 2.3, thromboembolic event 3.1, and mortality of 5.4 per 1000 PY.
Rates of SSEs in patients with MS, NMOSD, and related disorders were low. Through properly assessing risk:benefit of B-cell depleting therapy in neuroinflammatory disorders and continual monitoring, clinicians may decrease the risk of serious infections.

© 2020 The Authors. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Neurological Association.