From the bench to the bedside: ways to improve rituximab efficacy.

PMID 15226177


Rituximab (MabThera, Rituxan) is a chimeric IgG1 monoclonal antibody that specifically targets the CD20 surface antigen expressed on normal and neoplastic B-lymphoid cells. Rituximab is currently used in the treatment of both follicular and aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Despite its demonstrated clinical effectiveness, its in vivo mechanisms of action remain unknown and could differ by subtype of lymphoma. Rituximab has been shown to induce apoptosis, complement-mediated lysis, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity in vitro, and some evidence points toward an involvement of these mechanisms in vivo. Rituximab also has a delayed therapeutic effect as well as a potential "vaccinal" effect. Here, we review the current understanding of the mechanism of action of rituximab and discuss approaches that could increase its clinical activity. A better understanding of how rituximab acts in vivo should make it possible to develop new and more effective therapeutic strategies.