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Original Article


Sequential Combined Therapy With Omalizumab and Rituximab: A New Approach to Severe Atopic Dermatitis


S Sánchez-Ramón,1* I Eguíluz-Gracia,2* ME Rodríguez-Mazariego,3 A Paravisini,1 JM Zubeldia-Ortuño,3 J Gil-Herrera,1 E Fernández-Cruz,1 R Suárez-Fernández4

1Clinical Immunology Unit, Immunology Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain
2Allergy Department, Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain
3Allergy Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain
4Dermatology Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain
*Both authors contributed equally to this paper

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2013; Vol. 23(3): 190-196



Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common chronic skin disease, and a significant percentage of AD patients have severe forms. Inflammation based on type 2 helper T cells (TH2), autoantibodies, and CD8+ T cells could play a relevant role in this disease. When the patient requires systemic immunosuppressors for disease control, side effects are frequent. We propose a sequential therapeutic strategy with 2 monoclonal antibodies, omalizumab (anti-immunoglobulin [Ig] E) and rituximab (anti-CD20), which might induce clinical benefit with few side effects in selected individuals with AD.

Methods: We report 6 cases of severe AD refractory to conventional therapy. The patients underwent sequential switch therapy with omalizumab and rituximab . Clinical response was assessed by means of the decrease in body surface affected. Immunological parameters and side effects were also monitored.

Results: Four patients received omalizumab before a high-dose cycle of rituximab. In the case of recurrences, either low-dose cycles of rituximab or omalizumab were administered. A long-term clinical benefit was observed in 3 out of 4 patients. Two patients fi rst received high-dose rituximab followed by either low-dose rituximab or omalizumab, and one of them achieved a response at 17 months. No severe side effects were recorded. Serum IgE level and B-cell counts decreased with therapy, the latter returning to baseline levels 10 to 11 months after treatment. Specific antibody responses remained protective during the study.

Conclusions: With our proposed switch therapy, 4 out of 6 patients achieved a dramatic clinical improvement. This novel strategy targets different arms of the immune response and might be a good alternative for patients with severe AD.

Key words: Atopic dermatitis. Omalizumab. Rituximab. Autoimmunity. Allergy.