Background: The CTOT-11 (Prevention of Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy Using Rituximab Therapy in Cardiac Transplantation [Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation-11]) study was a randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter, double-blinded clinical trial in nonsensitized primary heart transplant (HTX) recipients. Objectives: The study sought to determine whether B cell depletion therapy would attenuate the development of cardiac allograft vasculopathy. Methods: A total of 163 HTX recipients were randomized to rituximab 1,000 mg intravenous or placebo on days 0 and 12 post-transplant. Primary outcome was change in percent atheroma volume (PAV) from baseline to 1 year measured by intravascular ultrasound. Secondary outcomes included treated episodes of acute rejection, de novo anti-HLA antibodies (including donor-specific antibodies), and phenotypic differentiation of B cells. Results: There were no significant differences at study entry between the rituximab and placebo groups. Paired intravascular ultrasound measures were available at baseline and 1 year in 86 subjects (49 rituximab, 37 placebo). The mean ± SD change in PAV at 12 months was +6.8 ± 8.2% rituximab versus +1.9 ± 4.4% placebo (p = 0.0019). Mortality at 12 months was 3.4% rituximab versus 6.8% placebo (p = 0.47); there were no retransplants or post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder. The rate of treated rejection was 24.7% rituximab versus 32.4% placebo (p = 0.28). Rituximab therapy effectively eliminated CD20+/CD19+ B cells followed by a gradual expansion of a CD19– cell population in the rituximab-treated group. Conclusions: A marked, unexpected increase in coronary artery PAV with rituximab was observed during the first year in HTX recipients. One-year mortality was not impacted; however, longer-term follow-up and mechanistic explanations are required.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine