Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

A Randomized Phase II Crossover Study of Imatinib or Rituximab for Cutaneous Sclerosis after Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

PMID 26378033


Cutaneous sclerosis occurs in 20% of patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and can compromise mobility and quality of life. We conducted a prospective, multicenter, randomized, two-arm phase II crossover trial of imatinib (200 mg daily) or rituximab (375 mg/m(2) i.v. weekly × 4 doses, repeatable after 3 months) for treatment of cutaneous sclerosis diagnosed within 18 months (NCT01309997). The primary endpoint was significant clinical response (SCR) at 6 months, defined as quantitative improvement in skin sclerosis or joint range of motion. Treatment success was defined as SCR at 6 months without crossover, recurrent malignancy or death. Secondary endpoints included changes of B-cell profiles in blood (BAFF levels and cellular subsets), patient-reported outcomes, and histopathology between responders and nonresponders with each therapy. SCR was observed in 9 of 35 [26%; 95% confidence interval (CI); 13%-43%] participants randomized to imatinib and 10 of 37 (27%; 95% CI, 14%-44%) randomized to rituximab. Six (17%; 95% CI, 7%-34%) patients in the imatinib arm and 5 (14%; 95% CI, 5%-29%) in the rituximab arm had treatment success. Higher percentages of activated B cells (CD27(+)) were seen at enrollment in rituximab-treated patients who had treatment success (P = 0.01), but not in imatinib-treated patients. These results support the need for more effective therapies for cutaneous sclerosis and suggest that activated B cells define a subgroup of patients with cutaneous sclerosis who are more likely to respond to rituximab.

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