To investigate effects of the preautografting administration of rituximab on the mobilization and engraftment of peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), we retrospectively analyzed the outcomes of 43 newly diagnosed diffuse-large B-cell lymphoma patients who received CHOP chemotherapy with or without rituximab as a first-line treatment before autologous PBSC transplantation (PBSCT). There was no difference in the number of CD34+ cells among PBSC between the non-rituximab and the rituximab groups. Although B-cells were completely depleted from PBSC in the rituximab group, we found no difference in the expression of CXCR-4, VLA-4 and c-Kit on PBSC, indicating that rituximab did not affect the expression of these adhesion molecules, which might be involved in the mechanism of mobilization. There was no significant difference in the recovery of neutrophils and platelets, transplant-related toxicity and post-transplant complications between the two groups. Despite the short follow-up, there was no significant difference in progression-free survival between the two groups. These results indicated no adverse effect of rituximab on the mobilization and engraftment of PBSC. Larger studies are required to determine the impact of rituximab on the mobilization and function of PBSC as well as whether a survival advantage exists in patients who undergo auto-PBSCT with rituximab.
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