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BACKGROUND: Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibody associated neuromyelitis optica (NMOSD) requires long-term immunosuppression. Rituximab is increasingly used worldwide, however the optimal regime is not established. METHODS: We retrospectively examined different rituximab regimens in AQP4-NMOSD. Standard monotherapy (SM; 6 monthly infusions), SM plus oral steroids (SM+S), extended interval dosing (EID; guided by CD19 repopulation) and EID with oral steroids (EID+S) were compared. The primary outcome was time to first clinical relapse. Potential confounders including age, gender, number of previous relapses, and onset phenotype were included. RESULTS: 77 patients were included: 67 females, median onset age 35.6, median DSS at rituximab initiation 5.0. 39 were on SM+S, 20 SM, 6 EID, and 12 EID+S. 25/77 patients relapsed during a median follow-up of 44.0 months. No significant difference in time to first relapse was observed between any rituximab regimen. Pooled analyses to compare regimens that use standard monotherapy (SM and SM+S) against those that use extended interval dosing (EID and EID+S) showed no significant difference. Pooled analysis of regimens using steroids with those not using steroids also showed no significant difference. Adjusted Cox proportional hazard model revealed no significant difference between rituximab regimens or influence of demographic factors. 9 significant adverse events were recorded, 5 in the SM group and 4 in SM+S. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides some basis for further exploring EID as a viable option for long term treatment of AQP4-NMOSD. This may improve patient experience and consolidate use of hospital resources.

Original publication




Journal article


Mult Scler Relat Disord

Publication Date





NMO, NMOSD, Neuromyelitis optica, Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, Rituximab, Treatment regimens