Recent studies have implicated B cells in atherosclerosis and have verified the atheroprotective effect of rituximab. Rituximab is widely used for desensitization in ABO-incompatible or crossmatch-positive kidney transplantation (KT). Using a single-center KT database, we performed propensity-matched analysis to investigate the association between rituximab and posttransplant atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Among 1299 eligible patients, 239 given rituximab induction were matched with 401 controls in a 1:2 propensity score matching process. The cumulative rate of ASCVD during 8 years of follow-up was significantly lower in rituximab-treated patients, compared with matched controls (3.7% vs. 11.2%; P = 0.012). However, all-cause mortality did not differ by group (2.9% vs. 4%; P = 0.943). In multivariable Cox analysis, rituximab proved independently protective of ASCVD (hazard ratio = 0.34, 95% confidence interval: 0.14–0.83). The lower risk of ASCVD seen with rituximab induction reached significance only in patient subsets of diabetes mellitus, pretransplant dialysis, or older age (>50 years). Rituximab induction confers a lower risk of ASCVD during the posttransplant period. This atheroprotective effect appears particularly beneficial in patients whose risk of ASCVD is heightened.
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