INTRODUCTION: The value of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) measurements among patients with an established diagnosis of ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) to assess disease activity or predict relapse remains controversial, but recent evidence suggests a possible role for rituximab-treated patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: All patients with active vasculitis and positive proteinase 3 (PR3)-ANCA who were starting a 2-year treatment course of rituximab for induction of remission at Addenbrooke’s Hospital between January 2011 and January 2016 were included in this study. Common department practice consists of 6 g of rituximab given over 2 years, concomitant corticosteroids (0.5-1.0 mg/kg) with rapid taper over 3 months, and cessation of oral maintenance immunosuppressive agents at time of first rituximab dose. Clinical and laboratory data were collected retrospectively using electronic patient records.
RESULTS: Fifty-seven patients with current PR3-ANCA positivity were included in the analysis. Median follow-up was 59 months. PR3-ANCA negativity was achieved in 25 patients (44%) with a median time of 14 months. Clinical remission was achieved in 53 patients (93%) with a median time of 3 months. Among the 53 patients who achieved remission during follow-up, 24 (45%) relapsed with a median time to relapse of 36 months from remission. Both PR3-ANCA-negative status and 50% reduction in PR3-ANCA from baseline (as time-varying covariates) were significantly associated with a longer time to relapse (PR3-ANCA-negative status: hazards ratio, 0.08 [95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.63, p = 0.016]; 50% reduction in PR3-ANCA: hazards ratio, 0.25 [95% confidence interval, 0.18-0.99, p = 0.046]).
CONCLUSIONS: Achieving and maintaining PR3-ANCA negativity after rituximab was associated with longer-lasting remission.