Rituximab Vasculitis Maintenance Study


About this study

Rituximab is now established as an effective drug for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) vasculitis following major European and US trials reported in 2010. After a time, its effect wears off and the disease can return. This occurs in at least half of patients within 2 years of receiving Rituximab. A preliminary study in Cambridge has suggested that repeating rituximab every six months stops the disease returning and is safe. The RITAZAREM trial will find out whether repeating rituximab stops vasculitis returning and whether it works better than the older treatments, azathioprine or methotrexate. It will also tell us how long patients remain well after the repeated rituximab treatments are stopped, and if repeated rituximab is safe. We should also learn useful information about the effects of rituximab on quality of life and economic measures. The trial results will help decide the best treatment for future patients who have their vasculitis initially treated with rituximab. RITAZAREM aims to recruit patients with established ANCA vasculitis whose disease has come back 'relapsing vasculitis'. All patients will be treated with rituximab and steroids and we anticipate that most will respond well. If their disease is under reasonable control after four months, further treatment with either rituximab (a single dose ever four months for two years) or azathioprine tablets will be chosen randomly. The patients in the rituximab and azathioprine groups will then be compared. Patients will be in the trial for four years. The study has been designed by members of the European Vasculitis Study group (EUVAS) and the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC). It will include 190 participants from 30 hospitals in Europe, the USA, Australia and Mexico. RITAZAREM is being funded by Arthritis Research UK, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and by Roche/Genentech.

Participation eligibility

Participant eligibility includes age, gender, type and stage of disease, and previous treatments or health concerns. Guidelines differ from study to study, and identify who can or cannot participate. There is no guarantee that every individual who qualifies and wants to participate in a trial will be enrolled. Contact the study team to discuss study eligibility and potential participation.

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. A diagnosis of AAV [granulomatosis with polyangiitis or microscopic polyangiitis], according to the definitions of the Chapel Hill Consensus Conference
  2. Current or historical PR3/MPO ANCA positivity by ELISA
  3. Disease relapse defined by one major or three minor disease activity items on the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score for Wegeners (BVAS/WG), in patients that have previously achieved remission following at least 3 months of induction therapy, with a combination of glucocorticoids and an immunosuppressive agent (cyclophosphamide or methotrexate or rituximab or mycophenolate mofetil)
  4. Written informed consent

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Age < 15 years (age < 18 years at centres that do not treat paediatric patients)
  2. Exclusions related to medication:

    Previous therapy with:

    1. Any biological B cell depleting agent (such as rituximab or belimumab) within the past 6 months
    2. Alemtuzumab or anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) within the last 12 months
    3. IVIg, infliximab, etanercept, adalimumab, abatacept or plasma exchange in past 3 months
    4. Any investigational agent within 28 days of screening, or 5 half lives of the investigational drug (whichever is longer)
  3. Exclusions related to general health:

    1. Significant or uncontrolled medical disease not related to AAV, which in the investigators opinion would preclude patient participation
    2. Presence of another multisystem autoimmune disease, including Churg Strauss syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, anti-GBM disease, or cryoglobulinaemic vasculitis,
    3. Any concomitant condition anticipated to likely require greater than 4 weeks per year of oral or systemic glucocorticoid use and which would preclude compliance with the glucocorticoid protocol (e.g. poorly-controlled asthma, COPD, psoriasis, or inflammatory bowel disease).
    4. History of severe allergic or anaphylactic reactions to humanised or murine chimeric monoclonal antibodies
    5. Known infection with HIV (HIV testing will not be a requirement for trial entry); a past or current history of hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus infection.
    6. Ongoing or recent (last 12 months) evidence of active tuberculosis or known active infection (screening for tuberculosis is part of "standard of care‟ in patients with established AAV) or evidence of untreated latent tuberculosis. Screening for tuberculosis is as per local practice.
    7. History of malignancy within the past five years or any evidence of persistent malignancy, except fully excised basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas of the skin, or cervical carcinoma in situ which has been treated or excised in a curative procedure.
    8. Pregnancy or inadequate contraception in pre-menopausal women
    9. Breast feeding or lactating
  4. Exclusion criteria related to laboratory parameters:

    1. Bone marrow suppression as evidenced by a total white count < 4 x109/l, haemoglobin < 7 gm/dl or platelet count < 100,000/μl
    2. Aspartate aminotransferase or alanine aminotransferase or amylase > 2.5 times the upper limit of normal, unless attributed to vasculitis

Participating Mayo Clinic locations

Study statuses change often. Please contact the study team for the most up-to-date information regarding possible participation.

Mayo Clinic Location Status Contact

Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Ulrich Specks, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

Contact information:

Pulmonary Clinical Research Unit

(800) 753-1606


More information


  • Cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids have been the cornerstone of remission-induction therapy for severe antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis for 40 years. Uncontrolled studies suggest that rituximab is effective and may be safer than a cyclophosphamide-based regimen. Read More on PubMed
  • Cyclophosphamide induction regimens for antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis are effective in 70 to 90% of patients, but they are associated with high rates of death and adverse events. Treatment with rituximab has led to remission rates of 80 to 90% among patients with refractory ANCA-associated vasculitis and may be safer than cyclophosphamide regimens. Read More on PubMed
  • ANCA disease remains a subject of great experimental and clinical interest. The subcategories of names and descriptions for this collection of vasculitides and necrotizing glomerulonephritides is still a subject of some debate. The various forms of ANCA disease share some characteristics, and similar therapies are often recommended for overlapping categories of disease. The immunopathogenic effects of myeloperoxidase and proteinase 3 antibodies are well established, and good mechanisms for initiation of disease are starting to emerge, particularly the role of autoantigen complementarity. Here we examine these various topics and discuss an approach to treatment. Read More on PubMed
  • B cell depletion with rituximab has allowed remissions in relapsing or refractory antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis in small studies. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy and safety of rituximab for ANCA-associated vasculitis in a larger multicenter cohort. This permitted comparison of rituximab dosing regimens, the value of continuing immunosuppression, and investigation of ANCA and B cell levels as re-treatment biomarkers. Read More on PubMed
  • Current therapies for antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis are limited by toxicity. Read More on PubMed
  • Standard therapy for antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated systemic vasculitis (AASV) with cyclophosphamide (CYC) and prednisolone is limited by toxicity. This unblinded, prospective, randomized, controlled trial was undertaken to determine whether methotrexate (MTX) could replace CYC in the early treatment of AASV. Read More on PubMed
  • To analyze damage occurring in patients with Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) enrolled in the WG Etanercept Trial (WGET) and to correlate that damage with disease activity, adverse events, and quality of life. Read More on PubMed
  • The majority of patients with Wegener's granulomatosis have disease flares after conventional medications are tapered. There is no consistently safe, effective treatment for the maintenance of remission. Read More on PubMed
  • The primary systemic vasculitides usually associated with autoantibodies to neutrophil cytoplasmic antigens include Wegener's granulomatosis and microscopic polyangiitis. We investigated whether exposure to cyclophosphamide in patients with generalized vasculitis could be reduced by substitution of azathioprine at remission. Read More on PubMed
  • Renal involvement is frequently present in antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-associated systemic vasculitis and is an important cause of end-stage renal failure (ESRF). Read More on PubMed
  • The past year has seen some notable publications in the field of vasculitis epidemiology. The appearance of reports from several different parts of the world has permitted comparisons to be made. In Europe, Wegener granulomatosis appears to be more common at high latitudes, whereas microscopic polyangiitis shows the reverse pattern. Kawasaki disease is most common in Japan. In China, the United States, and the United Kingdom, the incidence is lower, but the incidence appears to be increasing globally. Studies of infectious triggers continue to be disappointingly negative. Immunogenetic associations with cytokine polymorphisms are beginning to be reported. Read More on PubMed
  • Murine monoclonal antibody 2B8 specifically recognizes the CD20 phosphoprotein expressed on the surface of normal B lymphocytes and B-cell lymphomas. The light- and heavy-chain variable regions of 2B8 were cloned, after amplification by the polymerase chain reaction, into a cDNA expression vector that contained human IgG1 heavy chain and human kappa-light chain constant regions. High-level expression of chimeric-2B8 antibody (C2B8) was obtained in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Purified C2B8 exhibited antigen binding affinity and human-tissue reactivity similar to the native murine antibody. In vitro studies showed the ability of C2B8 to bind human C1q, mediate complement-dependent cell lysis of human B-lymphoid cell lines, and lyse human target cells through antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Infusion of macaque cynomolgus monkeys with doses ranging from 1.6 mg/kg to 6.4 mg/kg resulted in greater than 98% depletion of peripheral blood (PB) B cells and 40% to 70% depletion of lymph node B cells. Recovery of PB B cells usually started at 2 weeks after treatment and required 60 to greater than 90 days to reach normal levels. As much as 95% depletion of B cells in peripheral lymph nodes and bone marrow was observed following weekly injections of 16.8 mg/kg antibody. No toxicity was observed in any of the animals. These results offer the possibility of using an "immunologically active" chimeric anti-CD20 antibody as an alternative approach in the treatment of B-cell lymphoma. Read More on PubMed

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